Human cognitive neuroscience seminar
Speaker: Wei Wu (University of Edinburgh)
Title: An Investigation into semantic cognition in the ageing brain
Abstract: Age-related brain activity increases have been interpreted either as compensatory changes that help to maintain performance or as maladaptive dedifferentiation in neural activity. It is hard to disentangle these hypotheses, since most investigations have used tasks which older people find more difficult than young people, and little is known for tasks that older people are better at. This is critical because the two theories predict different results in the latter situation. Our research tests these competing accounts by studying semantics, a domain in which older people often outperform young people. In the first study, we collected behavioral data from young and older participants in two semantic tasks. We found that older people performed better than young people on the semantic knowledge task but not the semantic control task. Based on the behaviour data, we then selected a subset of stimuli that varied difficulty parametrically and conduct an (ongoing) fMRI experiment, which aims to probe age-related activation changes in semantic areas.