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Interactive Effects of Age and Gender on EEG Power and Coherence During a Short-Term Memory Task in Middle-Aged Adults

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Interactive Effects of Age and Gender on EEG Power and Coherence During a Short-Term Memory Task in Middle-Aged Adults

Silvia Erika Kober et al. Neurobiol Aging.

Abstract

The effects of age and gender on electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during a short-term memory task were assessed in a group of 40 healthy participants aged 22-63 years. Multi-channel EEG was recorded in 20 younger (mean = 24.65-year-old, 10 male) and 20 middle-aged participants (mean = 46.40-year-old, 10 male) during performance of a Sternberg task. EEG power and coherence measures were analyzed in different frequency bands. Significant interactions emerged between age and gender in memory performance and concomitant EEG parameters, suggesting that the aging process differentially influences men and women. Middle-aged women showed a lower short-term memory performance compared to young women, which was accompanied by decreasing delta and theta power and increasing brain connectivity with age in women. In contrast, men showed no age-related decline in short-term memory performance and no changes in EEG parameters. These results provide first evidence of age-related alterations in EEG activity underlying memory processes, which were already evident in the middle years of life in women but not in men.

Keywords: Age; Brain connectivity; Gender; Slow-wave EEG oscillations; Sternberg.

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