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Age-related qualitative differences in auditory cortical responses during short-term memory



To examine the affects of aging on auditory cortical activity during a short-term memory task.


Young and elderly subjects performed a working memory task using acoustically presented digits while evoked potential components (N100, P200) generated by auditory cortex were recorded. Reaction time and N100/P200 amplitudes and latency were analyzed as a function of memory load.


N100 amplitude to probes decreased as a function of memory load in young subjects, but increased as a function of memory load in the elderly. Young subjects also exhibited changes in N100 latency during memorization of list items, a result not found in elderly subjects.


We conclude that normal aging is associated with a qualitatively different pattern of N100 responses during memory retrieval, and a static N100 response during encoding. The findings suggest that aging is accompanied by functional reorganization of the neural network that supports retrieval in auditory working memory.

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