Changes in cerebral functioning associated with normal aging

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1989 Dec;11(6):918-32. doi: 10.1080/01688638908400945.


It has been suggested that the normal aging process is characterized by a pattern of neuropsychological performance decline that implies relatively greater vulnerability of right-hemisphere functions. This hypothesis was tested in a sample of 68 volunteers aged 20-75 who were free of systemic and neurologic illness. Neuropsychologic measures of lateralized and focal function were specifically selected to eliminate systematic procedural differences among tests (e.g., timed vs. untimed, overlearned vs. unfamiliar). Inferences about the localizing significance of each measure were based on previously demonstrated double dissociation of function in lesion studies. Results suggested that declines in cerebral efficiency are not differentially lateralized. Age correlated performance changes implied bilateral reduction that was significantly more pronounced on operations associated with frontal-lobe function. Anatomic and theoretical explanations for this pattern were discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reference Values
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Wechsler Scales