Top-down suppression deficit underlies working memory impairment in normal aging

  title={Top-down suppression deficit underlies working memory impairment in normal aging},
  author={Adam Gazzaley and Jeffrey W. Cooney and Jesse Rissman and Mark D’Esposito},
  journal={Nature Neuroscience},
In this study, we assess the impact of normal aging on top-down modulation, a cognitive control mechanism that supports both attention and memory by the suppression and enhancement of sensory processing in accordance with task goals. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we show that healthy older adults demonstrated a prominent deficit in the suppression of cortical activity associated with task-irrelevant representations, whereas enhancement of task-relevant activity was… 
The Role of Stimulus Anticipation in an Age-Related Top-Down Suppression Deficit
Introduction Top-down modulation refers to our ability to focus our attention on task-relevant stimuli while ignoring irrelevant distractions by differentially enhancing or suppressing neural
Age-related top-down suppression deficit in the early stages of cortical visual memory processing
Electroencephalography data reconcile two cognitive aging hypotheses by revealing that an interaction of deficits in inhibition and processing speed contributes to age-related cognitive impairment.
Top-down modulation: the crossroads of perception, attention and memory
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  • Psychology, Computer Science
    Electronic Imaging
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This work studies top-down modulation, the process by which neural activity associated with relevant information and suppress activity for irrelevant information are enhanced, thus establishing a neural basis for all higher-order cognitive operations.
Interference and facilitation in spatial working memory: age-associated differences in lure effects in the n-back paradigm.
The authors analyze performance on 2 versions of a 2-back spatial WM task to assess younger and older adults' responses to lures and demonstrate lure interference effects that are particularly pronounced among older adults.
Top-down modulation: bridging selective attention and working memory
Top‐Down Modulation and Normal Aging
Using three converging technologies of human neurophysiology, it is discovered that healthy older adults exhibit a selective inability to effectively suppress neural activity associated with distracting information and that this top‐down suppression deficit is correlated with their memory impairment.
Structural and functional differences in medial prefrontal cortex underlies distractibility and suppression deficits in aging
The neural basis of distraction’s negative impact on WM and the impairment in neural suppression in older adults are evaluated by performing structural and functional MRIs while older participants engage in tasks that require remembering relevant visual stimuli in the context of overlapping irrelevant stimuli.
Working Memory and Aging
Abstract In this chapter, we review research on the sensory and working memory changes that typically accompany normal aging, with the view that an examination of individual differences over the
Age-Related Changes in Electrophysiological and Neuropsychological Indices of Working Memory, Attention Control, and Cognitive Flexibility
It is shown that the operation-span (OSPAN) task (a measure of attention control) is predictive of the ability of individuals to keep track of stimulus sequencing and to maintain running mental representations of task stimuli, as indexed by the parietally distributed P300.
Top-Down Modulation and Memory Deficits: Neural Enhancement in the Context of Aging
Top-down modulation from a broader perspective suggests that some effortful control over posterior brain regions occurs. This study examined the extent to which age-related differences in top-down


Top-down Enhancement and Suppression of the Magnitude and Speed of Neural Activity
These findings reveal the fine degree of influence that goal-directed attention exerts upon activity within the visual association cortex and document capacity limitations in top-down enhancement corresponding with working memory performance deficits.
Visual distraction, working memory, and aging
  • R. West
  • Psychology, Medicine
    Memory & cognition
  • 1999
It is suggested that distraction disrupts both the ability to maintain a coherent stream of goal-directed thought and action in younger and older adults and the encoding and retention of relevant information in older adults.
Attentional Control in the Aging Brain: Insights from an fMRI Study of the Stroop Task
Several recent studies of aging and cognition have attributed decreases in the efficiency of working memory processes to possible declines in attentional control, the mechanism(s) by which the brain
The Role of Working Memory in Visual Selective Attention
Higher memory load resulted in greater interference effects on behavioral performance from the distractor faces, plus increased face-related activity in the visual cortex, which confirms a major role for working memory in the control of visual selective attention.
Inhibition in attention and aging.
  • J. Mcdowd
  • Psychology, Medicine
    The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
  • 1997
The role of inhibitory mechanisms in selective attention and aging is evaluated and an evaluation of inhibition as a theoretical concept in theories of cognitive aging is provided, with a specific focus on attention and Aging.
The role of interference in memory span
The possibility that interference-proneness may influence cognitive behaviors previously thought to be governed by capacity is considered, to suggest that PI critically influences span performance.
Prefrontal deficits in attention and inhibitory control with aging.
The results suggest that increased distractibility and impaired sustained attention with aging may be due to altered prefrontal cortex function, and support the loss of prefrontal suppression over the primary auditory regions with aging.
Age-related changes in processing auditory stimuli during visual attention: evidence for deficits in inhibitory control and sensory memory.
Age-related changes in processing task-irrelevant auditory stimuli are consistent with the inhibitory deficit hypothesis and suggest that impaired inhibitory control of sensory input may play a role in the age-related declines in performance during selective attention tasks.
Overlapping mechanisms of attention and spatial working memory
Selective representation of relevant information by neurons in the primate prefrontal cortex
Results suggest that the prefrontal cortex is involved in selecting and maintaining behaviourally relevant information.