Specific brain network may be key to successful aging, study suggests

Hannah Hausman and Adam J. Woods, Ph.D.
Hanna Hausman and Adam J. Woods, Ph.D.

By Todd Taylor

The preservation of a specific brain network called the cingulo-opercular network, or CON, may be key in helping to maintain higher cognitive functioning during the aging process, according to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and led by UF neuroscientists Adam J. Woods, Ph.D., and Hanna Hausman.

“This paper demonstrates that out of four major brain networks, the integrity of communication within CON at rest is associated with cognitive performance in older adults,” said Woods, associate professor of clinical and health psychology in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions. “Specifically, more coherent communication within CON is associated with better cognitive performance in older adults, particularly in domains that are susceptible to decline as we age: memory, attention and executive function.”

Baseline data came from 154 healthy older adults participating in two ongoing National Institute on Aging clinical trials. Primary data was obtained using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the NIH Toolbox Cognition battery, tests which measure and rate individuals’ cognitive function.

“CON may be a compelling target for novel interventions, such as transcranial direct current stimulation to improve network communication and perhaps enhance overall cognitive function in older adults,” said Woods, associate director of UF’s Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory.

Read the article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.