25 years of neurocognitive aging theories: What have we learned?

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The past 25 years have provided a rich discovery of at least four fundamental patterns that represent structural and functional brain aging across multiple cognitive domains. Of the many potential patterns of brain aging, few are ever examined simultaneously in a given study, leading one to question their mutual exclusivity. Moreover, more studies are emerging that note failures to replicate some brain aging patterns, thereby questioning the universality and prevalence of these patterns. Although some attempts have been made to create unifying theories incorporating many of these age-related brain patterns, we propose that the field's understanding of the aging brain has been hindered due to a large number of influential models with little crosstalk between them. We briefly review these brain patterns, the influential domain-general theories of neurocognitive aging that attempt to explain them, and provide examples of recent challenges to these theories. Lastly, we elaborate on improvements that can be made to lead the field to more comprehensive and robust models of neurocognitive aging.

neurocognition, fMRI, aging, older adults, theory, review, maintenance, compensation, OLDER-ADULTS, FRONTOPARIETAL CONTROL, AGE-DIFFERENCES, WHITE-MATTER, BRAIN, MEMORY, CORTEX, ACTIVATION, DEDIFFERENTIATION, ARCHITECTURE, Geriatrics & Gerontology, Neurosciences
McDonough, I. M., Nolin, S. A., & Visscher, K. M. (2022). 25 years of neurocognitive aging theories: What have we learned? In Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (Vol. 14). Frontiers Media SA. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2022.1002096