Nov 9, 2018

Michigan Neural Distinctiveness (MiND) project: Investigating the scope, causes, and consequences of age-related neural dedifferentiation

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Holly GagnonThad A Polk


Background: Aging is often associated with behavioral impairments, but some people age more gracefully than others. Why? One factor that may play a role is individual differences in the distinctiveness of neural representations. Previous research has found that neural activation patterns in visual cortex in response to different visual stimuli are often more similar (i.e., less distinctive) in older vs. young participants, a phenomenon referred to as age-related neural dedifferentiation. Furthermore, older people whose neural representations are less distinctive tend to perform worse on a wide range of behavioral tasks. The Michigan Neural Distinctiveness (MiND) project aims to investigate the scope of neural dedifferentiation (e.g., does it also occur in auditory, motor, and somatosensory cortex?), one potential cause (age-related reductions in the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)), and the behavioral consequences of neural dedifferentiation. This protocol paper describes the study rationale and methods being used in complete detail, but not the results (data collection is currently underway). Methods/Design: The MiND project consists of two studies: the main study and a drug study. In the main study,...Continue Reading

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