Impact of aging brain circuits on cognition

Authors

  • Rachel D. Samson,

    1. Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
    2. ARL Division of Neural Systems, Memory & Aging, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
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  • Carol A. Barnes

    Corresponding author
    1. ARL Division of Neural Systems, Memory & Aging, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
    2. Departments of Psychology and Neurology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
    • Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
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Correspondence: C. A. Barnes, as above.

E-mail: carol@nsma.arizona.edu

Abstract

Brain networks that engage the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are central for enabling effective interactions with our environment. Some of the cognitive processes that these structures mediate, such as encoding and retrieving episodic experience, wayfinding, working memory and attention are known to be altered across the lifespan. As illustrated by examples given below, there is remarkable consistency across species in the pattern of age-related neural and cognitive change observed in healthy humans and other animals. These include changes in cognitive operations that are known to be dependent on the hippocampus, as well as those requiring intact prefrontal cortical circuits. Certain cognitive constructs that reflect the function of these areas lend themselves to investigation across species, allowing brain mechanisms at different levels of analysis to be studied in greater depth.

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