More expertise for a better perspective: Task and strategy-driven adaptive neurofunctional reorganization for word production in high-performing older adults

Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2019 Mar;26(2):190-221. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2017.1423021. Epub 2018 Jan 16.


The suggestion that neurofunctional reorganization may contribute to preserved language abilities is still emerging in aging studies. Some of these abilities, such as verbal fluency (VF), are not unitary but instead rely on different strategic processes that are differentially changed with age. Younger (n = 13) and older adults (n = 13) carried out an overt self-paced semantic and orthographic VF tasks within mixed fMRI design. Our results suggest that patterns of brain activation sustaining equivalent performances could be underpinned by different strategies facing brain changes during healthy aging. These main findings suggest that temporally mediated semantic clustering and frontally mediated orthographic switching were driven by evolutive neurofunctional resources in high-performing older adults. These age-related activation changes can appear to be compatible with the idea that unique neural patterns expressing distinctive cognitive strategies are necessary to support older adults' performance on VF tasks.

Keywords: aging; fMRI; neurofunctional reorganization; strategic processes; verbal fluency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult