Poster D3, Monday, March 26, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Hemispheric asymmetries in behavioral and EEG measures of visual short-term memory change with aging
Iris Wiegand1,2,3, Patrizia Maier2, Natan Napiórkowski4, Kathrin Finke4,5, Thomas Töllner4, Hermann J Müller4, Myriam C Sander2; 1Harvard University, 2Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 3Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, 4LMU Munich, 5Jena University Hospital
Changes in hemispheric asymmetry play a prominent role in theories of cognitive aging, however, the generalizability and functional implications of the age-related changes are not always clear. Here, we investigated age and task-specific differences in visual short-term memory (vSTM) in two samples of younger adults (YA) and older adults (OA), measuring “K” and the contralateral delay activity (CDA) as behavioral and neurophysiological markers of VSTM capacity, respectively. The first sample performed a visuo-spatial change-detection task with colored squares. In this task, both age groups showed a higher CDA amplitude for stimuli processed in the right hemisphere, but only YA also showed a corresponding behavioral performance benefit. This finding is in accordance with a right-hemispheric dominance for visuo-spatial attention and indicative of an age-related reduction in the behavioral manifestation of this asymmetry. The second sample performed a whole report task with letter stimuli. In this task both age groups showed a behavioral performance benefit for stimuli processed in the left hemisphere, in accordance with a left-hemispheric dominance for processing verbal information. Notably, the behavioral effect was more pronounced in OA, and only OA also showed a trend to a left-hemispheric lateralization of the CDA. Together, our results indicate that lateralized processing of visuo-spatial content in vSTM is affected by aging, while lateralized processing of verbal content is spared. In contrast to a general hemispheric asymmetry reduction in age, our findings support the assumption of pronounced age-related decline in the right hemisphere pre-dominantly involved in visuo-spatial attention.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Development & aging