Default-mode network dynamics are restricted during high speed discrimination in healthy aging: Associations with neurocognitive status and simulated driving behavior
Luis Eudave, Martín Martínez, Elkin O Luis, María A Pastor
Numerous daily tasks, including car driving, require fine visuospatial tuning. One such visuospatial ability, speed discrimination, declines with aging but its neural underpinnings remain unknown. In this study, we use fMRI to explore the effect of aging during a high speed discrimination task and its neural underpinnings, along with a complete neuropsychological assessment and a simulated driving evaluation in order to examine how they interact with each other through a multivariate regression approach.
Beyond confirming that high speed discrimination performance is diminished in the elderly, we found that this deficit might be partly due to a lack of modulation in the activity and connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) in this age group, as well as an over-recruitment of frontoparietal and cerebellar regions, possibly as a compensatory mechanism. In addition, younger adults tended to drive at faster speeds, a behavior that was associated to adequate DMN dynamics and executive functioning, an effect that seems to be lost in the elderly.
In summary, these results reveal how age-related declines in fine visuospatial abilities, such as high speed discrimination, were distinctly mediated by DMN functioning, a mechanism also associated to speeding behavior in a driving simulator.
CITATION Hum Brain Mapp. 2018 Nov;39(11):4196-4212. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24240. Epub 2018 Jul 1.