Elsevier, NeuroImage, 4(49), p. 3319-3330
To explore the effects of commonly encountered pathology on auditory recognition strategies in elderly participants, magnetoencephalographic (MEG) brain activation patterns and performance were examined in 30 elderly [18 controls and 12 elderly with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or probable Alzheimer's disease (AD)]. It was predicted that participants with known pathology would reveal different networks of brain activation, compared to healthy elderly, which should correlate with poorer performance. Participants heard a list of words representing common objects, twice. After 20 minutes a list of new and old words was presented and participants judged whether each word was heard earlier. MEG responses were analyzed using a semiautomated source modeling procedure. A cluster analysis using all subjects' MEG sources revealed three dominant patterns of activity which correlated with IQ and task performance. The highest performing group revealed activity in premotor, anterior temporal, and superior parietal lobes with little contribution from prefrontal cortex. Performance and brain activation patterns were also compared for individuals with or without abnormalities such as white matter hyperintensities and/or volume reduction evidenced on their MRIs. Memory performance and activation patterns for individuals with white matter hyperintensities resembled the group of MCI/AD patients. These results emphasize the following: (1) general pathology correlates with cognitive decline and (2) full characterization of the health of elderly participants is important in studies of normal aging since random samples from the elderly population are apt to include individuals with subclinical pathology that can affect cognitive performance.