Task-induced functional connectivity of picture naming in healthy aging : the impacts of age and task complexity
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofNeurobiology of language ; vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 161-184.
The topological organization of the brain, governed by the capacity of brain regions to synchronize their activity, allows for cost-effective performance during everyday cognitive activity. Functional connectivity is an fMRI method deemed task-specific and demand-dependent. Although the brain undergoes significant changes during healthy aging, conceptual knowledge and word-production accuracy are generally preserved. The exploration of task-induced functional connectivity patterns during active picture naming may thus provide additional information about healthy functional cerebral mechanisms that are specifically adapted to the cognitive activity at hand. The goal of this study is to assess and describe age-related differences in functional connectivity during an overt picture-naming task, as well as to compare age-related differences under complex task demand, defined by lexical frequency. Results suggest both age-specific and task-specific mechanisms. In the context of preserved behavioral performance in a picture-naming task, older adults show a complex array of differences in functional connectivity architecture, including both increases and decreases. In brief, there is increased segregation and specialization of regions that are classically assigned to naming processes. Results also expand on previous word-production studies and suggest that motor regions are particularly subject to age-related differences. This study also provides the first indication that intrinsic task demand, as manipulated by lexical frequency, interacts little with the relationship between age and functional connectivity. Together, these findings confirm the value of task-induced functional connectivity analysis in revealing the brain organization that subserves task performance during healthy aging.