Age-related changes in fronto-parietal networks during spatial memory: an ERP study

Notger G Müller, Robert T Knight
Brain Research. Cognitive Brain Research 2002, 13 (2): 221-34
Spatial attention and memory were compared in young and old subjects using non-delayed and delayed matching-to-sample tests. Both young and older subjects revealed a right hemisphere superiority for spatial processing. Older subjects were as accurate as young controls in the non-delay task supporting preserved attention ability in this spatial task. However, older subjects were impaired at 3 s retention intervals supporting an encoding and/or retrieval deficit in spatial memory. Stimulus evaluation demands were highest in the non-delay task and younger subjects generated the largest posterior P3 in this condition plus an additional frontal P3. The frontal P3 was reduced in amplitude in the delay tasks in the young subjects. Retention of spatial information during the delay period was characterized by a negative slow wave maximal over Pz that predicted later memory performance and was enhanced in those subjects with high memory performance. Conversely, older subjects generated a frontal P3 in both delay and non-delay conditions and a reduced sustained posterior scalp negativity in some delay conditions. The results support age-related alterations in frontal-parietal networks during spatial memory.

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