Hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults: the HAROLD model

Psychol Aging. 2002 Mar;17(1):85-100. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.17.1.85.


A model of the effects of aging on brain activity during cognitive performance is introduced. The model is called HAROLD (hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults), and it states that, under similar circumstances, prefrontal activity during cognitive performances tends to be less lateralized in older adults than in younger adults. The model is supported by functional neuroimaging and other evidence in the domains of episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, perception, and inhibitory control. Age-related hemispheric asymmetry reductions may have a compensatory function or they may reflect a dedifferentiation process. They may have a cognitive or neural origin, and they may reflect regional or network mechanisms. The HAROLD model is a cognitive neuroscience model that integrates ideas and findings from psychology and neuroscience of aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Verbal Learning / physiology