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two types of neuroimaging techniques

  • 1) Structural Neuroimaging:
  • 2) Functional Neuroimaging: 


Structural Neuroimaging

  • highly detailed images of anatomical features in the brain
  • Like  a photo at a given time
  • Good for fractures, tumors, and other structural damage
  • X-Ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imagine (MRI)


Functional Neuroimaging

  • indication of brain activity but not anatomical detail
  • Single photon emission CT (SPECT)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI)
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Near infrared spectroscopic imaging (NIRSI)
  • fMRI is the most common
  • Shows brain activity in color coded example red is more active and blu is less


three neuroscience perspectives

  • 1) Neuropsychological
  • 2) Neurocorrelational
  • 3) activation imaging approach


1) Neuropsychological

  • compares brain functioning of healthy older adults with adults displaying various pathological disorders in the brain
  • Comparing people at any age with brain damage to healthy older adults
  • Example: a younger person with frontal lobe damage = lower dopamine = decrease in mental processing
  • That symptom can also be seen in healthy older people


2) Neurocorrelational 

  • relates measures of cognitive performance to measures of brain structure or functioning
  • As in size of brain parts or mapping which parts are active in relation to the cognitive task
  • Approach is speculative and not certain


3) activation imaging approach

  • attempts to link functional brain activity with cognitive behavior data
  • Similar to the last one but with a focus on watching brain activity during cognitive tasks
  • Younger brains tend to show activity in one hemisphere versus older brains tend to show activity in both for the same task (maybe related to compensatory age related changes


Compensatory Changes

  • are changes that allow older adults to adapt to the inevitable behavior decline resulting from changes in specific areas of the brain
  • how they promote theoretical development in the field of aging:
  • 1) Explain how change in performance map to changes in the brain
  • 2) Help to explain how you can remember certain cognitive functions but how processing speed declines


Neurons = 

  • dendrites -> axon (containing neurofibres)-> terminal branches -> neurotransmitters get passed through synapses
  • Neurons (also called neurones or nerve cells) are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, the cells responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in between


Cerebral cortex is

  • the outermost part of the brain
  • divided in 2 by the corpus callosum


Pre-frontal and frontal cortex involves

executive functions (plans, focus, connects key parts of the brain) 

Correlation between poor performance in executive functioning with decreased volume in pre-frontal cortex 



at back = equilibrium, coordination, fine motor and some cognitive



= memory 


Limbic system 

  •  a set of structures involved in emotion, motivation, long terms memory
  • includes amygdala and hippocampus


White Matter =

  • neurons that are covered in myelin that serve to transmit information from one part of the cerebral cortex to another or from the cerebral cortex to other parts of the brain


WM hyperintensities

  • = high signal intensity or a bright spotty appearance on images indicating brain pathology such as neural atrophy, cognitive decline
  • Some areas shrink while others associated with sensory perception stay the same size


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) =

  • assesses the rate and direction that water diffuses through white matter
  • Results in an index of structural health of white matter
  • Deterioration of WM may represent a cause of increased pre=frontal cortex deterioration = cognitive
  • Also linked to cerebrovascular diseases = stroke


Executive functioning failures 

  • can lead to erroneous selection of irrelevant information as relevant, inefficiency in switching tasks / hard time deciphering what is false about what they are reading fro what is true


WMH in healthy adults means 

  • lower cognitive test scores and less good at acquiring new skills


Reduction in hippocampus is linked to

memory loss 


Structural change and emotion

  • older adults tend to be able to regulate their emotions better than younger people linked to changes in pre-frontal cortex and amygdala
  • They have more connections going on between pre=frontal and medial temporal lobe, possibly because they are compensating


Structural change with social emotional 

  • Amygdala shows less age-related deterioration and so they have more automatic processing in social cognition tasks (the example is of seeing someone stagger and automatically assuming that they are drunk)


The positivity effect:

  • older adults are more motivated to derive emotional meaning from life and to maintain positive feelings
  • Positive emotions happen in different part of the brain than negative ones
  • Positive thinking lights up more parts of the brain in older people


age-related changes in neurons

  • Number of neurons declines
  • Structural = decrease in size and number of dendrites
  • Tangles in axon fibres and
  • Deposit of proteins
  • Number of potential connections between neurons also declines


age-related changes in neurotransmitters

  • Dopamine declines with aging 
  • is associated with high level cognitive functions, inhibiting thoughts, attention and planning, emotion, pleasure, pain
  • Related to declines in episodic (short term memory), memory for information in quick activities, amount of memory that can be stored at any given moment (working memory)
  • These are all effortful (not automatic) memory uses
  • Serotonin: memory, mood, appetite, sleep = abnormal decline related to Alzheimer's
  • Acetylcholine: arousal, sensory perception, sustaining attention = serious memory declines as a result of damage to these neuron areas


Dopaminergic system is

  •  the collective name for neurons that use dopamine
  • Related to declines in episodic (short term memory), memory for information in quick activities, amount of memory that can be stored at any given moment (working memory)


Parieto-frontal integration theory (P-fit)

  • intelligence comes from a distributed and integrated network of neurons in the parietal and frontal areas of the brain


Bilateral activation

  • in older adults serves as a functional and supportive role in cognitive functioning 
  • Could be a way for the brain to compensate for one side not working as well as it should be
  • Greater activity in bilateral activation in older adults during long term memory tasks



  • Hemispheric Asymmetry Reduction in OLDer adults = the reduced ability of older adults to separate cognitive processing in differing parts of the pre-frontal cortex
  • The brain creates and uses reserve abilities to lessen the impact of age related changes in the brain 


Describe the CRUNCH Model 

  • compensation related utilization of neural circuits hypothesis
  • Aging brain adapts to by recruiting additional neural circuits
  • Suggests that more of the same circuits are used and recruiting of other areas to help (supplementary process) with compensation when other areas are lacking