Sridhar S. Kannurpatti1, Michael A. Motes2, Bart Rypma2, Bharat B. Biswal1
1Radiology, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA; 2School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA
As a person ages, dramatic neural plasticity occurs leading to differences in the amplitude and spatial extent of task-induced functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) responses and presents challenges of estimating altered activation due to disease. fMRI-BOLD studies were conducted in older and younger subject groups using a motor, cognitive and a breath hold task. We observed a decrease in average area of activation during the motor, cognitive or the BH task in the elderly, which was mainly due to a relatively larger spatial variability in activation. Based on our results on the larger spatial variability in activation in the elderly over the motor, cognitive and BH tasks, we propose the hypothesis that normal aging may spatially rearrange brain function in a subtle manner depending on existing areas of efficient cerebrovascular function.