Putting age-related task activation into large-scale brain networks: A meta-analysis of 114 fMRI studies on healthy aging

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Oct;57:156-74. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.08.013. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


Normal aging is associated with cognitive decline and underlying brain dysfunction. Previous studies concentrated less on brain network changes at a systems level. Our goal was to examine these age-related changes of fMRI-derived activation with a common network parcellation of the human brain function, offering a systems-neuroscience perspective of healthy aging. We conducted a series of meta-analyses on a total of 114 studies that included 2035 older adults and 1845 young adults. Voxels showing significant age-related changes in activation were then overlaid onto seven commonly referenced neuronal networks. Older adults present moderate cognitive decline in behavioral performance during fMRI scanning, and hypo-activate the visual network and hyper-activate both the frontoparietal control and default mode networks. The degree of increased activation in frontoparietal network was associated with behavioral performance in older adults. Age-related changes in activation present different network patterns across cognitive domains. The systems neuroscience approach used here may be useful for elucidating the underlying network mechanisms of various brain plasticity processes during healthy aging.

Keywords: Aging; Cognitive control; Connectomics; Default mode; Neural network.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*