Lectures and seminars Aging Research Center International forum: Brain network aging
SPEAKER: Gagan S. Wig, PhD, Associate Professor,
Center for Vital Longevity, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
HOST: Aging Research Center, NVS
Prominent ideas in the Cognitive Neuroscience of aging have directly or indirectly emphasized age-associated alterations in brain network connectivity. Network science has provided a language and analytic framework for directly examining connectivity patterns, treating the brain as a large-scale network of interacting regions. I will highlight efforts from my lab that have incorporated tools from network science to describe differences in the brain’s network organization over the human adult lifespan. To achieve this, we have examined multiple large data sets that include participants sampled across a wide age range of adulthood (20-89yrs). The descriptions of network organization incorporate our work using resting-state correlations to parcellate the brain into distinct cortical areas, which has revealed both the similarities and differences in the location of functional brain areas across age. The parcellated areas are treated as nodes to model large-scale functional network properties of the brain. Brain network organization differs with increasing age, demonstrating decreased segregation of brain systems. Importantly, individual differences in system segregation relate to differences in both cognitive ability and brain function, providing evidence that the brain’s network organization relates to differences in behavior and information processing observed in healthy aging. Finally, I will describe some of our most recent work which is revealing how environmental variables influence an individual’s brain network organization across broad segments of adult aging. Collectively, these observations are illuminating how large-scale brain networks differ with increasing age, and in parallel offer a novel perspective regarding the sources of age-related cognitive decline.