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Patterns of on-task thought in older age are associated with changes in functional connectivity between temporal and prefrontal regions

Martinon, Léa M and Riby, Leigh M and Poerio, Giulia and Wang, Hao-Ting and Jefferies, Elizabeth and Smallwood, Jonathan (2019) 'Patterns of on-task thought in older age are associated with changes in functional connectivity between temporal and prefrontal regions.' Brain and Cognition, 132. 118 - 128. ISSN 0278-2626

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Abstract

Humans spend a large proportion of their time engaged in thoughts unrelated to the task being performed, a tendency that declines with age. However, a clear neuro-cognitive account of what underlies this decrease is lacking. This study addresses the possibility that age-related changes in off-task thinking are correlated with changes in the intrinsic organisation of the brain. Laboratory measures of ongoing thought were recorded in young and older individuals, who also participated in a resting state fMRI experiment. Older individuals showed reduced connectivity between the left anterior temporal lobe with prefrontal aspects of the DMN. We found that off-task thinking did not increase when task demands were lower for older adults, which is a pattern repeatedly seen in younger individuals. Finally, we demonstrated that these neural and thought patterns were linked – for younger participants only, reductions in the strength of connectivity were related to a greater shift towards off-task thoughts when task demands decreased. Importantly, in the older individuals, lower connectivity between the same regions was linked to preserved performance on a creativity task. These data suggest that the age-related reduction of off-task thought may be related to reduced communication between temporal and prefrontal DMN regions in ageing.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 12:50
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26150

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