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Disrupted cortico-cerebellar connectivity in older adults

  • Author(s): Bernard, Jessica A.
  • Peltier, Scott J.
  • Wiggins, Jillian Lee
  • Jaeggi, Susanne M.
  • Buschkuehl, Martin
  • Fling, Brett W.
  • Kwak, Youngbin
  • Jonides, John
  • Monk, Christopher S.
  • Seidler, Rachael D.
  • et al.
Abstract

Healthy aging is marked by declines in a variety of cognitive and motor abilities. A better understanding of the aging brain may aid in elucidating the neural substrates of these behavioral effects. Investigations of resting state functional brain connectivity have provided insights into pathology, and to some degree, healthy aging. Given the role of the cerebellum in both motor and cognitive behaviors, as well as its known volumetric declines with age, investigating cerebellar networks may shed light on the neural bases of age-related functional declines. We mapped the resting state networks of the lobules of the right hemisphere and the vermis of the cerebellum in a group of healthy older adults and compared them to those of young adults. We report disrupted cortico-cerebellar resting state network connectivity in older adults. These results remain even when controlling for cerebellar volume, signal-to-noise ratio, and signal-to-fluctuation noise ratio. Specifically, there was consistent disruption of cerebellar connectivity with both the striatum and the medial temporal lobe. Associations between connectivity strength and both sensorimotor and cognitive task performance indicate that cerebellar engagement with the default mode network and striatal pathways is associated with better performance for older adults. These results extend our understanding of the resting state networks of the aging brain to include cortico-cerebellar networks, and indicate that age differences in network connectivity strength are important for behavior.

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