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Neural Mechanisms of Age-Related Slowing: The ΔCBF/ΔCMRO2 Ratio Mediates Age-Differences in BOLD Signal and Human Performance

Happy elderly couple smiling, looking at the camera. Older. White.

Cerebral Cortex

Joanna L. Hutchison, Hanzhang Lu and Bart Rypma

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Overview

Researchers compared the blood flow in the brain to the metabolic rate of oxygen consumption in the brain using MRI scans. The rate of blood flow changes in comparison to the rate of oxygen consumption by cells in the brain as we age, which can cause cognitive performance to slow. This indicated that cognitive performance may depend on how efficiently neurons operate in the brain. When neurons are less efficient, they require greater oxygen levels to function correctly and more blood to bring that oxygen to the brain. Age-related changes in neuronal oxygen consumption and blood flow to the brain can explain the differences in blood-oxygen-level-dependent activation that lead to cognitive slowing.
Figure 3. CBF and BOLD responses to visual stimulation.

Figure 3. CBF and BOLD responses to visual stimulation. (A) BOLD percent signal change (mean ± SEM) for younger and older groups based on visual stimulation shown by stimulus condition. Significant differences between groups are indicated by asterisks: *P < 0.04, **P < 0.004. (B) CBF percent signal change (mean ± SEM) for younger and older groups based on visual stimulation shown by stimulus condition. (Comparison of the combined condition to parafoveal stimulation, shown in the rightmost bars of Fig. 3A,B, is aggregated from the parafoveal and combined stimulus conditions for both BOLD and CBF—that is, the effects are additive. Although this is not an independent measurement, it is shown here for illustrative purposes).

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Bart Rypma, PhD

Principal Investigator Professor, Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas Meadows Foundation Endowed Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences Director, Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center


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Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center

Located at Center for BrainHealth, the Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center is a one-of-a-kind facility completely focused on human brain imaging to measure changes in brain health and function. The design and field strength are optimized for functional MRI (fMRI), providing crisp anatomical detail and a signal-to-noise ratio that reduces distortion to facilitate the acquisition and interpretation of data.