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Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Jun;122(6):1156-67. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2010.10.045. Epub 2010 Nov 27.

Event-related delta and theta brain oscillations reflect age-related changes in both a general and a specific neuronal inhibitory mechanism.

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Institute of Psychology and Cognition Research, University of Bremen, Grazer Str. 4, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.



ERPs may be limited in validity when investigating inhibitory functions in later adulthood, as age-related increases in intraindividual variability and changes in EEG-oscillations are not considered. The present study compared averaged ERP peak and single trial time-frequency (TF) data analysis.


Go/NoGo ERP waves amplitude/latency measures were compared with a TF analysis estimating single trial event-related EEG spectral power enhancement and intertrial phase-locking (ITC) in delta and theta band.


Age-related larger ITC was found for theta oscillations in the N2-P3 time range during NoGo, only. Discrepancies between N1/N2 ERP and TF results were obtained. Go/NoGo-P3 amplitude reductions in elderly were not related to an increased delta latency jitter.


Discrepancies between ERPs and TF results challenge conclusions made about age-related changes in Go/NoGo-N2. Earlier reports of age-related changes in P3 are supported by the present results. The study implies age-related impairments in a general neuronal inhibition mechanism and a specific response inhibition mechanism.


The study indicates long-range communication impairments in the aged brain and the results are discussed considering hypotheses on increases in neural noise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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