Aging brain from a network science perspective: something to be positive about?

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 6;8(11):e78345. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078345. eCollection 2013.


To better understand age differences in brain function and behavior, the current study applied network science to model functional interactions between brain regions. We observed a shift in network topology whereby for older adults subcortical and cerebellar structures overlapping with the Salience network had more connectivity to the rest of the brain, coupled with fragmentation of large-scale cortical networks such as the Default and Fronto-Parietal networks. Additionally, greater integration of the dorsal medial thalamus and red nucleus in the Salience network was associated with greater satisfaction with life for older adults, which is consistent with theoretical predictions of age-related increases in emotion regulation that are thought to help maintain well-being and life satisfaction in late adulthood. In regard to cognitive abilities, greater ventral medial prefrontal cortex coherence with its topological neighbors in the Default Network was associated with faster processing speed. Results suggest that large-scale organizing properties of the brain differ with normal aging, and this perspective may offer novel insight into understanding age-related differences in cognitive function and well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Behavior
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Thalamus / physiology*