Normal aging is usually accompanied by several structural and functional physiological changes of the brain, which are closely related to alterations of cognitive functions (e.g., visual short-term memory). As the average age of the population increases, it has become crucial to identify cognitive-behavioural interventions to maintain a healthy level of cognitive performance. Among a variety of approaches, the targeting of specific intrinsic alertness mechanisms has shown a solid rationale and beneficial effects in both healthy and pathological ageing. In a similar vein, the use of non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) represents another promising approach to induce an alerting state that can produce advantages in the information processing in the brain and therefore behaviour. Here, we investigated whether time-locked bursts of tES (i.e., transcranial random noise stimulation) were effective in inducing behavioural and physiological changes, consistently with an alertness increase, in both young and older healthy adults. Namely, we expected to find a beneficial alerting effect on visual short-term memory performance as a function of stimulus perceptual salience and tES. The initial results showed that the performance of younger adults was not affected by tES, while older adults scored lower correct responses for high-salience stimuli during real tES with respect to sham stimulation. However, after including a baseline measure of subjective level of alertness in the analyses, a tES-induced memory improvement did emerge in the less alerted younger adults, while only the more alerted older adults were subject to the worsening effect by tES. We discuss these results in consideration of the evidence on critical age-related differences as well as the interaction between neurostimulation and baseline alerting mechanisms.

Baseline levels of alertness influence tES effects along different age-related directions

Miniussi C.;Brignani D.
2021

Abstract

Normal aging is usually accompanied by several structural and functional physiological changes of the brain, which are closely related to alterations of cognitive functions (e.g., visual short-term memory). As the average age of the population increases, it has become crucial to identify cognitive-behavioural interventions to maintain a healthy level of cognitive performance. Among a variety of approaches, the targeting of specific intrinsic alertness mechanisms has shown a solid rationale and beneficial effects in both healthy and pathological ageing. In a similar vein, the use of non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) represents another promising approach to induce an alerting state that can produce advantages in the information processing in the brain and therefore behaviour. Here, we investigated whether time-locked bursts of tES (i.e., transcranial random noise stimulation) were effective in inducing behavioural and physiological changes, consistently with an alertness increase, in both young and older healthy adults. Namely, we expected to find a beneficial alerting effect on visual short-term memory performance as a function of stimulus perceptual salience and tES. The initial results showed that the performance of younger adults was not affected by tES, while older adults scored lower correct responses for high-salience stimuli during real tES with respect to sham stimulation. However, after including a baseline measure of subjective level of alertness in the analyses, a tES-induced memory improvement did emerge in the less alerted younger adults, while only the more alerted older adults were subject to the worsening effect by tES. We discuss these results in consideration of the evidence on critical age-related differences as well as the interaction between neurostimulation and baseline alerting mechanisms.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11379/553959
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