An exploratory study of the effects of spatial working-memory load on prefrontal activation in low- and high performing elderly

Anouk Vermeij*, Arenda H. E. A. van Beek, Babette L. R. Reijs, Jurgen A. H. R. Claassen, Roy P. C. Kessels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Older adults show more bilateral prefrontal activation during cognitive performance than younger adults, who typically show unilateral activation. This over-recruitment has been interpreted as compensation for declining structure and function of the brain. Here we examined how the relationship between behavioral performance and prefrontal activation is modulated by different levels of working-memory load. Eighteen healthy older adults (70.8 +/- 5.0 years; MMSE 29.3 +/- 0.9) performed a spatial working-memory task (n-back). Oxygenated ([O(2)Hb]) and deoxygenated ([HHb]) hemoglobin concentration changes were registered by two functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) channels located over the left and right prefrontal cortex. Increased working-memory load resulted in worse performance compared to the control condition. [O(2)Hb] increased with rising working-memory load in both fNIRS channels. Based on the performance in the high working-memory load condition, the group was divided into low and high performers. A significant interaction effect of performance level and hemisphere on [O(2)Hb] increase was found, indicating that high performers were better able to keep the right prefrontal cortex engaged under high cognitive demand. Furthermore, in the low performers group, individuals with a larger decline in task performance from the control to the high working-memory load condition had a larger bilateral increase of [O(2)Hb]. The high performers did not show a correlation between performance decline and working-memory load related prefrontal activation changes. Thus, additional bilateral prefrontal activation in low performers did not necessarily result in better cognitive performance. Our study showed that bilateral prefrontal activation may not always be successfully compensatory. Individual behavioral performance should be taken into account to be able to distinguish successful and unsuccessful compensation or declined neural efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number303
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • BOLD
  • cognitive aging
  • CRUNCH
  • functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • HAROLD
  • n-back
  • prefrontal cortex
  • working memory
  • NEAR-INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY
  • AGE-RELATED-CHANGES
  • OLDER-ADULTS
  • BRAIN ACTIVATION
  • RECRUITMENT
  • NETWORK
  • CORTEX
  • FNIRS
  • FMRI

Cite this

Vermeij, Anouk ; van Beek, Arenda H. E. A. ; Reijs, Babette L. R. ; Claassen, Jurgen A. H. R. ; Kessels, Roy P. C. / An exploratory study of the effects of spatial working-memory load on prefrontal activation in low- and high performing elderly. In: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2014 ; Vol. 6.
@article{ea3a3a437d1440c9ab1181232109eb96,
title = "An exploratory study of the effects of spatial working-memory load on prefrontal activation in low- and high performing elderly",
abstract = "Older adults show more bilateral prefrontal activation during cognitive performance than younger adults, who typically show unilateral activation. This over-recruitment has been interpreted as compensation for declining structure and function of the brain. Here we examined how the relationship between behavioral performance and prefrontal activation is modulated by different levels of working-memory load. Eighteen healthy older adults (70.8 +/- 5.0 years; MMSE 29.3 +/- 0.9) performed a spatial working-memory task (n-back). Oxygenated ([O(2)Hb]) and deoxygenated ([HHb]) hemoglobin concentration changes were registered by two functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) channels located over the left and right prefrontal cortex. Increased working-memory load resulted in worse performance compared to the control condition. [O(2)Hb] increased with rising working-memory load in both fNIRS channels. Based on the performance in the high working-memory load condition, the group was divided into low and high performers. A significant interaction effect of performance level and hemisphere on [O(2)Hb] increase was found, indicating that high performers were better able to keep the right prefrontal cortex engaged under high cognitive demand. Furthermore, in the low performers group, individuals with a larger decline in task performance from the control to the high working-memory load condition had a larger bilateral increase of [O(2)Hb]. The high performers did not show a correlation between performance decline and working-memory load related prefrontal activation changes. Thus, additional bilateral prefrontal activation in low performers did not necessarily result in better cognitive performance. Our study showed that bilateral prefrontal activation may not always be successfully compensatory. Individual behavioral performance should be taken into account to be able to distinguish successful and unsuccessful compensation or declined neural efficiency.",
keywords = "BOLD, cognitive aging, CRUNCH, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, HAROLD, n-back, prefrontal cortex, working memory, NEAR-INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY, AGE-RELATED-CHANGES, OLDER-ADULTS, BRAIN ACTIVATION, RECRUITMENT, NETWORK, CORTEX, FNIRS, FMRI",
author = "Anouk Vermeij and {van Beek}, {Arenda H. E. A.} and Reijs, {Babette L. R.} and Claassen, {Jurgen A. H. R.} and Kessels, {Roy P. C.}",
year = "2014",
month = "11",
day = "5",
doi = "10.3389/fnagi.2014.00303",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
journal = "Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience",
issn = "1663-4365",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S.A.",

}

An exploratory study of the effects of spatial working-memory load on prefrontal activation in low- and high performing elderly. / Vermeij, Anouk; van Beek, Arenda H. E. A.; Reijs, Babette L. R.; Claassen, Jurgen A. H. R.; Kessels, Roy P. C.

In: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Vol. 6, 303, 05.11.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - An exploratory study of the effects of spatial working-memory load on prefrontal activation in low- and high performing elderly

AU - Vermeij, Anouk

AU - van Beek, Arenda H. E. A.

AU - Reijs, Babette L. R.

AU - Claassen, Jurgen A. H. R.

AU - Kessels, Roy P. C.

PY - 2014/11/5

Y1 - 2014/11/5

N2 - Older adults show more bilateral prefrontal activation during cognitive performance than younger adults, who typically show unilateral activation. This over-recruitment has been interpreted as compensation for declining structure and function of the brain. Here we examined how the relationship between behavioral performance and prefrontal activation is modulated by different levels of working-memory load. Eighteen healthy older adults (70.8 +/- 5.0 years; MMSE 29.3 +/- 0.9) performed a spatial working-memory task (n-back). Oxygenated ([O(2)Hb]) and deoxygenated ([HHb]) hemoglobin concentration changes were registered by two functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) channels located over the left and right prefrontal cortex. Increased working-memory load resulted in worse performance compared to the control condition. [O(2)Hb] increased with rising working-memory load in both fNIRS channels. Based on the performance in the high working-memory load condition, the group was divided into low and high performers. A significant interaction effect of performance level and hemisphere on [O(2)Hb] increase was found, indicating that high performers were better able to keep the right prefrontal cortex engaged under high cognitive demand. Furthermore, in the low performers group, individuals with a larger decline in task performance from the control to the high working-memory load condition had a larger bilateral increase of [O(2)Hb]. The high performers did not show a correlation between performance decline and working-memory load related prefrontal activation changes. Thus, additional bilateral prefrontal activation in low performers did not necessarily result in better cognitive performance. Our study showed that bilateral prefrontal activation may not always be successfully compensatory. Individual behavioral performance should be taken into account to be able to distinguish successful and unsuccessful compensation or declined neural efficiency.

AB - Older adults show more bilateral prefrontal activation during cognitive performance than younger adults, who typically show unilateral activation. This over-recruitment has been interpreted as compensation for declining structure and function of the brain. Here we examined how the relationship between behavioral performance and prefrontal activation is modulated by different levels of working-memory load. Eighteen healthy older adults (70.8 +/- 5.0 years; MMSE 29.3 +/- 0.9) performed a spatial working-memory task (n-back). Oxygenated ([O(2)Hb]) and deoxygenated ([HHb]) hemoglobin concentration changes were registered by two functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) channels located over the left and right prefrontal cortex. Increased working-memory load resulted in worse performance compared to the control condition. [O(2)Hb] increased with rising working-memory load in both fNIRS channels. Based on the performance in the high working-memory load condition, the group was divided into low and high performers. A significant interaction effect of performance level and hemisphere on [O(2)Hb] increase was found, indicating that high performers were better able to keep the right prefrontal cortex engaged under high cognitive demand. Furthermore, in the low performers group, individuals with a larger decline in task performance from the control to the high working-memory load condition had a larger bilateral increase of [O(2)Hb]. The high performers did not show a correlation between performance decline and working-memory load related prefrontal activation changes. Thus, additional bilateral prefrontal activation in low performers did not necessarily result in better cognitive performance. Our study showed that bilateral prefrontal activation may not always be successfully compensatory. Individual behavioral performance should be taken into account to be able to distinguish successful and unsuccessful compensation or declined neural efficiency.

KW - BOLD

KW - cognitive aging

KW - CRUNCH

KW - functional near-infrared spectroscopy

KW - HAROLD

KW - n-back

KW - prefrontal cortex

KW - working memory

KW - NEAR-INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY

KW - AGE-RELATED-CHANGES

KW - OLDER-ADULTS

KW - BRAIN ACTIVATION

KW - RECRUITMENT

KW - NETWORK

KW - CORTEX

KW - FNIRS

KW - FMRI

U2 - 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00303

DO - 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00303

M3 - Article

VL - 6

JO - Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

JF - Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

SN - 1663-4365

M1 - 303

ER -