Rostral locus coeruleus integrity is associated with better memory performance in older adults.

Published on Sep 9, 2019in Nature Human Behaviour12.282
· DOI :10.1038/S41562-019-0715-2
Martin J. Dahl5
Estimated H-index: 5
(MPG: Max Planck Society),
Mara Mather68
Estimated H-index: 68
(SC: University of Southern California)
+ 4 AuthorsMarkus Werkle-Bergner29
Estimated H-index: 29
(MPG: Max Planck Society)
For decades, research into memory decline in human cognitive ageing has focused on neocortical regions, the hippocampus and dopaminergic neuromodulation. Recent findings indicate that the locus coeruleus (LC) and noradrenergic neuromodulation may also play an important role in shaping memory development in later life. However, technical challenges in quantification of LC integrity have hindered the study of LC–cognition associations in humans. Using high-resolution, neuromelanin-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, we found that individual differences in learning and memory were positively associated with LC integrity across a variety of memory tasks in both younger (n = 66) and older adults (n = 228). Moreover, we observed functionally relevant age differences confined to rostral LC. Older adults with a more ‘youth-like’ rostral LC also showed higher memory performance. These findings link non-invasive, in vivo indices of LC integrity to memory in ageing and highlight the role of the LC norepinephrine system in the decline of cognition. Dahl et al. use neuromelanin-sensitive neuroimaging in a cohort of participants spanning ages 25 to 83 and report that ‘youth-like’ rostral locus coeruleus integrity is associated with better memory performance in the elderly.
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