Increase of posterior connectivity in aging within the Ventral Attention Network: A functional connectivity analysis using independent component analysis

Brain Res. 2017 Feb 15;1657:288-296. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.12.017. Epub 2016 Dec 21.


Multiple studies have found neurofunctional changes in normal aging in a context of selective attention. Furthermore, many articles report intrahemispheric alteration in functional networks. However, little is known about age-related changes within the Ventral Attention Network (VAN), which underlies selective attention. The aim of this study is to examine age-related changes within the VAN, focusing on connectivity between its regions. Here we report our findings on the analysis of 27 participants' (13 younger and 14 older healthy adults) BOLD signals as well as their performance on a letter-matching task. We identified the VAN independently for both groups using spatial independent component analysis. Three main findings emerged: First, younger adults were faster and more accurate on the task. Second, older adults had greater connectivity among posterior regions (right temporoparietal junction, right superior parietal lobule, right middle temporal gyrus and left cerebellum crus I) than younger adults but lower connectivity among anterior regions (right anterior insula, right medial superior frontal gyrus and right middle frontal gyrus). Older adults also had more connectivity between anterior and posterior regions than younger adults. Finally, correlations between connectivity and response time on the task showed a trend toward connectivity in posterior regions for the older group and in anterior regions for the younger group. Thus, this study shows that intrahemispheric neurofunctional changes in aging also affect the VAN. The results suggest that, in contexts of selective attention, posterior regions increased in importance for older adults, while anterior regions had reduced centrality.

Keywords: Aging; Functional connectivity; Ventral Attention Network; Visual selective attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Algorithms
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reaction Time
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen