Poster C43, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Oscillatory mechanisms for orienting attention towards internal representations: effects of aging
Sara Aurtenetxe1, Eveline van Bijnen1, Roy P.C. Kessels1, Joukje M. Oosterman1, Anna C. Nobre2, Ole Jensen3; 1Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, 2Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, University of Oxford, 3School of Psychology, University of Birmingham
Selective attention to external information modulates the neural oscillatory patterns of our brain. Processing relevant information is believed to be supported by oscillations at higher frequencies (gamma range, >30 Hz), whereas blocking irrelevant information is believed to be supported by oscillations at low frequencies (alpha range, 8-13 Hz). In a similar manner, directing attention to internal representations (as revealed in retro-cue paradigms) is shown to be supported by analogous mechanisms. Working Memory (WM) functions decline with age. However, how aging affects the attentional orienting to representations held in WM needs further investigation. In the current study, 20 young and 20 older participants performed a retro-cue task while their respective neural activity was recorded with magnetoencephalography (MEG). In addition, each participant underwent structural brain image scanning and neuropsychological assessment. Centrally presented retro-cues induced lateralized patterns of alpha power in occipital sensors depending on whether the relevant stimuli were located left or right during the encoding. This lateralization was reduced in the older adults. Our preliminary findings demonstrate a role for alpha oscillations when directing attention towards internal representations. Furthermore, these results indicate that the ability to modulate alpha oscillations when orienting to internal representation is diminished in the elderly. In future work we will identify the brain structures associated with the reduced ability to modulate the alpha activity.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory