Age-preserved semantic memory and the CRUNCH effect manifested as differential semantic control networks: An fMRI study

PLoS One. 2021 Jun 15;16(6):e0249948. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249948. eCollection 2021.


Semantic memory representations are overall well-maintained in aging whereas semantic control is thought to be more affected. To explain this phenomenon, this study aims to test the predictions of the Compensation Related Utilization of Neural Circuits Hypothesis (CRUNCH) focusing on task demands in aging as a possible framework. The CRUNCH effect would manifest itself in semantic tasks through a compensatory increase in neural activation in semantic control network regions but only up to a certain threshold of task demands. This study will compare 40 young (20-35 years old) with 40 older participants (60-75 years old) in a triad-based semantic judgment task performed in an fMRI scanner while manipulating levels of task demands (low vs. high) through semantic distance. In line with the CRUNCH predictions, differences in neurofunctional activation and behavioral performance (accuracy and response times) are expected in young vs. old participants in the low- vs. high-demand conditions manifested in semantic control Regions of Interest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Semantics

Grant support