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Neural correlates of variable working memory load across adult age and skill: dissociative patterns within the fronto-parietal network
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Physiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Physiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI).
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
2009 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 50, no 1, 41-46 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We examined neural changes related to variations in working memory load by using an n-back task with three levels and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Younger adults were divided into high- and low-performing groups (Young-High; Young-Low) and compared with older adults. Relative to Young-High, capacity-constraints in working memory were apparent between load 1-2 for the elderly and between load 2-3 for Young-Low. Capacity-constraints in neural activity followed this pattern by showing a monotonically increasing response in parietal cortex and thalamus for Young-High, whereas activity leveled off at 1-back for the elderly and at 2-back for Young-Low. The response in dorsal frontal cortex followed a similar pattern with the addition that the magnitude of activation differed within capacity limitations (Old > Young at 1-back; Young-Low > Young-High at 2-back). These findings indicate that an important determinant of WM capacity is the ability to keep the frontal cortex adequately engaged in relation to current task demands.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons Inc. , 2009. Vol. 50, no 1, 41-46 p.
Keyword [en]
fMRI, working memory load, capacity-constraints
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-32023DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00678.xPubMedID: 18705668OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-32023DiVA: diva2:300521
Available from: 2010-02-26 Created: 2010-02-26 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Train your brain: updating, transfer, and neural changes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Train your brain: updating, transfer, and neural changes
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Träning av hjärnan : uppdatering, transfer effekter, och neurala förändringar
Abstract [en]

An initial aim of this thesis was to determine whether training of a specific executive function (updating) produces improvements in performance on trained and transfer tasks, and whether the effects are maintained over time. Neural systems underlying training and transfer effects were also investigated and one question considered is whether transfer depends on general or specific neural overlap between training and transfer tasks. An additional aim was to identify how individual differences in executive functioning are mapped to functional brain changes. In Study I, significant training-related changes in performance on the letter memory criterion task were found in both young and older adults after 5 weeks of updating training. Transfer to a 3-back test of updating was also demonstrated in the young adults. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) revealed overlapping activity in letter memory and 3-back tasks in fronto-parietal areas and striatum pre-training, and a joint training-related activity increase for the tasks in a striatal region. No transfer was observed to a task (Stroop) that engaged fronto-parietal areas, but not the striatal region and updating per se. Moreover, age-related striatal changes imposed constraints on transfer. In Study II, additional transfer tasks and a test of long-term maintenance were included. Results revealed that training-related gains in performance were maintained 18 months post-training in both young and older adults, whereas transfer effects were limited to tasks requiring updating and restricted to young participants. In Study III, analyses of brain activity and performance during n-back (1/2/3-back) were executed. This task enables manipulation of executive demand, which permits examination of how individual differences in executive functioning can be mapped to functional brain changes. Relative to a young high-

performing group, capacity constraints in executive functioning were apparent between 1–2-back for the elderly participants and between 2–3-back for a young low-performing group. Capacity constraints in neural activity followed this pattern by showing a monotonically increasing response in the parietal cortex and the thalamus for young high performers, whereas activity levelled off at 1-back for elderly performers and at 2-back for young low performers. The response in the dorsal frontal cortex followed a similar pattern. Together, these findings indicate that fronto-parietal as well as sub-cortical areas are important for individual differences in executive functioning, training of updating and transfer effects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section for Physiology, Umeå university, 2009. 58 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1283
Keyword
cognitive training, executive functioning, transfer, fMRI, brain system, young adults, elderly, practice, neural correlates, individual differences
National Category
Physiology Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Physiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26606 (URN)978-91-7264-834-0 (ISBN)
Distributor:
Fysiologi, 901 87, Umeå
Public defence
2009-11-13, Biologihuset, BiA201, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-10-27 Created: 2009-10-16 Last updated: 2011-06-07Bibliographically approved

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