Preserved cognitive functions with age are determined by domain-dependent shifts in network responsivity

Dávid Samu*, Karen L. Campbell, Kamen A. Tsvetanov, Meredith A. Shafto, Carol Brayne, Edward T. Bullmore, Andrew C. Calder, Rhodri Cusack, Tim Dalgleish, John Duncan, Richard N. Henson, Fiona E. Matthews, William D. Marslen-Wilson, James B. Rowe, Teresa Cheung, Simon Davis, Linda Geerligs, Rogier Kievit, Anna McCarrey, Abdur MustafaDarren Price, Jason R. Taylor, Matthias Treder, Janna Van Belle, Nitin Williams, Lauren Bates, Tina Emery, Sharon Erzinclioglu, Andrew Gadie, Sofia Gerbase, Stanimira Georgieva, Claire Hanley, Beth Parkin, David Troy, Tibor Auer, Marta Correia, Lu Gao, Emma Green, Rafael Henriques, Jodie Allen, Gillian Amery, Liana Amunts, Anne Barcroft, Amanda Castle, Cheryl DIas, Jonathan Dowrick, Melissa Fair, Hayley Fisher, Anna Goulding, Adarsh Grewal, Geoff Hale, Andrew Hilton, Frances Johnson, Patricia Johnston, Thea Kavanagh-Williamson, Magdalena Kwasniewska, Alison McMinn, Kim Norman, Jessica Penrose, Fiona Roby, DIane Rowland, John Sargeant, Maggie Squire, Beth Stevens, Aldabra Stoddart, Cheryl Stone, Tracy Thompson, Ozlem Yazlik, Dan Barnes, Marie DIxon, Jaya Hillman, Joanne Mitchell, Laura Villis, Lorraine K. Tyler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Healthy ageing has disparate effects on different cognitive domains. The neural basis of these differences, however, is largely unknown. We investigated this question by using Independent Components Analysis to obtain functional brain components from 98 healthy participants aged 23-87 years from the population-based Cam-CAN cohort. Participants performed two cognitive tasks that show age-related decrease (fluid intelligence and object naming) and a syntactic comprehension task that shows age-related preservation. We report that activation of task-positive neural components predicts inter-individual differences in performance in each task across the adult lifespan. Furthermore, only the two tasks that show performance declines with age show age-related decreases in task-positive activation of neural components and decreasing default mode (DM) suppression. Our results suggest that distributed, multi-component brain responsivity supports cognition across the adult lifespan, and the maintenance of this, along with maintained DM deactivation, characterizes successful ageing and may explain differential ageing trajectories across cognitive domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14743
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 8 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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