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Top-down suppression deficit underlies working memory impairment in normal aging

Nature Neuroscience volume 8, pages 12981300 (2005) | Download Citation

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  • An Erratum to this article was published on 01 December 2005

Abstract

In this study, we assess the impact of normal aging on top-down modulation, a cognitive control mechanism that supports both attention and memory by the suppression and enhancement of sensory processing in accordance with task goals. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we show that healthy older adults demonstrated a prominent deficit in the suppression of cortical activity associated with task-irrelevant representations, whereas enhancement of task-relevant activity was preserved. Moreover, this suppression-specific attention deficit correlated with impaired working memory performance.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health and the American Federation of Aging Research (A.G.) and the NIH (M.D.). We thank D. Pino for helpful discussions and J. Hoffman and A. Rutman for assistance with neuropsychological testing.

Author information

Author notes

    • Adam Gazzaley

    Present address: University of California San Francisco, 1700 4th Street, Room 102C, San Francisco, California 94143-2512, USA.

Affiliations

  1. Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute & Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

    • Adam Gazzaley
    • , Jeffrey W Cooney
    • , Jesse Rissman
    •  & Mark D'Esposito

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adam Gazzaley.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1543

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