Ageing affects event-related potentials and brain oscillations: a behavioral and electrophysiological study using a haptic recognition memory task

Neuropsychologia. 2011 Dec;49(14):3967-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.10.013. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


In this electrophysiological study, we investigated the effects of ageing on recognition memory for three-dimensional (3D) familiar objects presented to touch in a continuous paradigm. To examine changes in event-related potentials (ERPs) and brain oscillations, we recorded the EEGs of healthy groups of young (n=14; mean age=32.3 years) and older adults (n=14; mean age=65.1). Both age groups exhibited similar accuracy and exploration times when making old-new judgments. Young and older participants showed a marginally significant ERP old/new effect widely distributed over the scalp between 550-750 ms. In addition, the elders showed lower amplitude than younger participants within 1200-1500 ms. There were age-related differences in brain oscillations as measured by event-related spectral perturbation (ERSP). Older adults showed greater alpha and beta power reductions than young participants, suggesting the recruitment of additional neural resources. In contrast, the two age groups showed a reliable old/new effect in the theta band that temporarily overlapped the ERP old/new effect. The present results suggest that despite similar behavioral performance, the young and older adults recruited different neural resources to perform a haptic recognition task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Touch / physiology*