Idiosyncratic responding during movie-watching predicted by age differences in attentional control

Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Nov;36(11):3045-3055. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.07.028. Epub 2015 Aug 6.


Much is known about how age affects the brain during tightly controlled, though largely contrived, experiments, but do these effects extrapolate to everyday life? Naturalistic stimuli, such as movies, closely mimic the real world and provide a window onto the brain's ability to respond in a timely and measured fashion to complex, everyday events. Young adults respond to these stimuli in a highly synchronized fashion, but it remains to be seen how age affects neural responsiveness during naturalistic viewing. To this end, we scanned a large (N = 218), population-based sample from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) during movie-watching. Intersubject synchronization declined with age, such that older adults' response to the movie was more idiosyncratic. This decreased synchrony related to cognitive measures sensitive to attentional control. Our findings suggest that neural responsivity changes with age, which likely has important implications for real-world event comprehension and memory.

Keywords: Aging; Attentional control; Independent components analysis; Intersubject correlation; Natural vision; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Comprehension / physiology
  • Cortical Synchronization / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Young Adult