Resurrecting brinley plots for a novel use: meta-analyses of functional brain imaging data in older adults

Int J Biomed Imaging. 2008:2008:167078. doi: 10.1155/2008/167078.


By plotting response times of young and older adults across a variety of tasks, Brinley spurred investigation and debate into the theory of general cognitive slowing. Though controversial, Brinley plots can assess between-task differences, the impact of increasing task demand, and the relationship between responses in two groups of subjects. Since a relationship exists between response times and the blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal of functional MRI (fMRI), Brinley's plotting method could be applied as a meta-analysis tool in fMRI studies of aging. Here, fledgling "Peiffer plots" are discussed for their potential impact on understanding general cognitive brain activity in aging. Preliminary results suggest that general cognitive slowing may be localized at the sensorimotor transformation in the precentral gyrus. Although this meta-analysis method is naturally used with imaging studies of aging, theoretically it may be applied to other study pairs (e.g., schizophrenic versus normal) or imaging datasets (e.g., PET).