As increasing numbers of Americans are living to advanced ages, understanding what allows individuals to maintain meaningful levels of intellectual functioning and independence has become a major public health concern. The primary goal of the proposed research is to investigate the ways in which information processing of cognitively `successful'older adults differs from that of cognitively less successful ones. Event-related potential (ERP) indices of sensory-perceptual encoding, selective attention, and capacity- limited controlled processing will be measured. This will provide an opportunity to evaluate competing theories about cognitive aging that differ in terms of which information processing operations are hypothesized to be most important to age-related changes in cognition. Our proposal emphasizes novelty processing because increased responsiveness to novelty may not only be a reflection of successful cognitive aging, but also help to promote it. In the proposed study, individuals from 18 to over 90 years old will be divided into cognitively high and cognitively average performers based on age-appropriate neuropsychological test norms. A carefully planned set of ERP experiments will examine the extent to which groups varying in cognitive status differ in age-related changes in novelty processing under conditions that manipulate demands on 1) capacity-limited controlled processing (Aim 1), 2) context-appropriate resource allocation (Aim 2), and 3) selective attention to task-relevant events (Aim 3).
Aim 1 will be addressed by comparing responses to novel stimuli under single vs. dual-task conditions.
Aim 2 will be addressed by comparing responses to novelty under conditions that vary whether novel stimuli serve as distracters or potentially meaningful events.
Aim 3 will be addressed by comparing responses to salient stimuli under attend vs. ignore conditions. Our work will provide important insights into 1) the extent to which age-related differences between cognitively high and average performing adults are due to a decline in information processing capacity that begins earlier in the lifespan for average performers;2) the extent to which the magnitude of age-related differences between cognitively high and average performing adults differ across various stages of information processing;3) the extent to which members of different age and cognitive groups are able to vary their response to novel events depending on the context in which they occur;and 4) the extent to which ERP indices of sensory-perceptual encoding, selective attention, and capacity-limited controlled processing can differentially account for the variance in age-related changes in neuropsychological performance. In summary, the proposed research will provide an opportunity to elucidate factors that are fundamental to successful cognitive aging, an endeavor that is critical to this important field of study.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research will investigate factors that contribute to successful cognitive aging, a topic of major importance to public health as an increasing number of Americans are living to advanced ages. We will study age-related changes in brain wave activity in individuals from 18 to over 90 years old who vary in their level of intellectual functioning.
We aim to identify underlying mechanisms that allow people to remain active and high functioning throughout adulthood.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01AG017935-10
Application #
8281586
Study Section
Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
Program Officer
Wagster, Molly V
Project Start
2000-04-01
Project End
2014-05-31
Budget Start
2012-06-01
Budget End
2014-05-31
Support Year
10
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$470,179
Indirect Cost
$201,506
Name
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department
Type
DUNS #
030811269
City
Boston
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02115
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Daffner, Kirk R; Alperin, Brittany R; Mott, Katherine K et al. (2014) Age-related differences in the automatic processing of single letters: implications for selective attention. Neuroreport 25:77-82
Alperin, Brittany R; Mott, Katherine K; Holcomb, Phillip J et al. (2014) Does the age-related "anterior shift" of the P3 reflect an inability to habituate the novelty response? Neurosci Lett 577:6-10
Zhuravleva, Tatyana Y; Alperin, Brittany R; Haring, Anna E et al. (2014) Age-related decline in bottom-up processing and selective attention in the very old. J Clin Neurophysiol 31:261-71
Jicha, Gregory A; Rentz, Dorene M (2013) Cognitive and brain reserve and the diagnosis and treatment of preclinical Alzheimer disease. Neurology 80:1180-1
Haring, A E; Zhuravleva, T Y; Alperin, B R et al. (2013) Age-related differences in enhancement and suppression of neural activity underlying selective attention in matched young and old adults. Brain Res 1499:69-79
Daffner, Kirk R; Haring, Anna E; Alperin, Brittany R et al. (2013) The impact of visual acuity on age-related differences in neural markers of early visual processing. Neuroimage 67:127-36
Daffner, Kirk R; Zhuravleva, Tatyana Y; Sun, Xue et al. (2012) Does modulation of selective attention to features reflect enhancement or suppression of neural activity? Biol Psychol 89:398-407
Tarbi, Elise C; Sun, Xue; Holcomb, Phillip J et al. (2011) Surprise? Early visual novelty processing is not modulated by attention. Psychophysiology 48:624-32
Daffner, Kirk R; Sun, Xue; Tarbi, Elise C et al. (2011) Does compensatory neural activity survive old-old age? Neuroimage 54:427-38

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