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Cortex. 2017 Jun;91:208-220. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.01.002. Epub 2017 Jan 12.

FMRI activity during associative encoding is correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness and source memory performance in older adults.

Author information

1
Memory Disorders Research Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: scott.hayes@va.gov.
2
National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Memory Disorders Research Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.
4
University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Psychology, Chicago, IL, USA.
5
Memory Disorders Research Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

Older adults (OA), relative to young adults (YA), exhibit age-related alterations in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) activity during associative encoding, which contributes to deficits in source memory. Yet, there are remarkable individual differences in brain health and memory performance among OA. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is one individual difference factor that may attenuate brain aging, and thereby contribute to enhanced source memory in OA. To examine this possibility, 26 OA and 31 YA completed a treadmill-based exercise test to evaluate CRF (peak VO2) and fMRI to examine brain activation during a face-name associative encoding task. Our results indicated that in OA, peak VO2 was positively associated with fMRI activity during associative encoding in multiple regions including bilateral prefrontal cortex, medial frontal cortex, bilateral thalamus and left hippocampus. Next, a conjunction analysis was conducted to assess whether CRF influenced age-related differences in fMRI activation. We classified OA as high or low CRF and compared their activation to YA. High fit OA (HFOA) showed fMRI activation more similar to YA than low fit OA (LFOA) (i.e., reduced age-related differences) in multiple regions including thalamus, posterior and prefrontal cortex. Conversely, in other regions, primarily in prefrontal cortex, HFOA, but not LFOA, demonstrated greater activation than YA (i.e., increased age-related differences). Further, fMRI activity in these brain regions was positively associated with source memory among OA, with a mediation model demonstrating that associative encoding activation in medial frontal cortex indirectly influenced the relationship between peak VO2 and subsequent source memory performance. These results indicate that CRF may contribute to neuroplasticity among OA, reducing age-related differences in some brain regions, consistent with the brain maintenance hypothesis, but accentuating age-differences in other regions, consistent with the brain compensation hypothesis.

KEYWORDS:

Aerobic fitness; Aging; Brain maintenance; Compensation; Memory; Physical activity; fMRI

PMID:
28161031
PMCID:
PMC5674520
DOI:
10.1016/j.cortex.2017.01.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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