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Hum Brain Mapp. 2014 Jan;35(1):319-30. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22175. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Reduced specificity of functional connectivity in the aging brain during task performance.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands; BCN-Neuroimaging Center, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


The importance of studying connectivity in the aging brain is increasingly recognized. Recent studies have shown that connectivity within the default mode network is reduced with age and have demonstrated a clear relation of these changes with cognitive functioning. However, research on age-related changes in other functional networks is sparse and mainly focused on prespecified functional networks. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated age-related changes in functional connectivity during a visual oddball task in a range of functional networks. It was found that compared with young participants, elderly showed a decrease in connectivity between areas belonging to the same functional network. This was found in the default mode network and the somatomotor network. Moreover, in all identified networks, elderly showed increased connectivity between areas within these networks and areas belonging to different functional networks. Decreased connectivity within functional networks was related to poorer cognitive functioning in elderly. The results were interpreted as a decrease in the specificity of functional networks in older participants.


aging; dedifferentiation; fMRI; functional connectivity; neural noise

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