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Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Nov;3(11):1203-1214. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0715-2. Epub 2019 Sep 9.

Rostral locus coeruleus integrity is associated with better memory performance in older adults.

Author information

1
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany. dahl@mpib-berlin.mpg.de.
2
Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.
4
Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, UK.
5
Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, Berlin, Germany.
6
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
7
Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.
8
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany. werkle@mpib-berlin.mpg.de.

Abstract

For decades, research into memory decline in human cognitive ageing has focused on neocortical regions, the hippocampus and dopaminergic neuromodulation. Recent findings indicate that the locus coeruleus (LC) and noradrenergic neuromodulation may also play an important role in shaping memory development in later life. However, technical challenges in quantification of LC integrity have hindered the study of LC-cognition associations in humans. Using high-resolution, neuromelanin-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, we found that individual differences in learning and memory were positively associated with LC integrity across a variety of memory tasks in both younger (n = 66) and older adults (n = 228). Moreover, we observed functionally relevant age differences confined to rostral LC. Older adults with a more 'youth-like' rostral LC also showed higher memory performance. These findings link non-invasive, in vivo indices of LC integrity to memory in ageing and highlight the role of the LC norepinephrine system in the decline of cognition.

PMID:
31501542
DOI:
10.1038/s41562-019-0715-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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