Epigenetic Markers of Aging Predict the Neural Oscillations Serving Selective Attention

Alex I. Wiesman, Michael T. Rezich, Jennifer O'Neill, Brenda Morsey, Tina Wang, Trey Ideker, Susan Swindells, Howard S. Fox, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Chronological age remains an imperfect measure of accumulated physiological stress. Biological measures of aging may provide key advantages, allowing scientists focusing on age-related functional changes to use metrics derived from epigenetic factors like DNA methylation (DNAm), which could provide greater precision. Here we investigated the relationship between methylation-based age and an essential cognitive function that is known to exhibit age-related decline: selective attention. We found that DNAm-age predicted selective attention abilities and fully mediated the relationship between selective attention and chronological age. Using neuroimaging with magnetoencephalography, we found that gamma activity in the anterior cingulate was robustly predicted by DNAm-derived biological age, revealing the neural dynamics underlying this DNAm age-related cognitive decline. Anterior cingulate gamma activity also significantly predicted behavior on the selective attention task, indicating its functional relevance. These findings suggest that DNAm age may be a better predictor of cognitive and brain aging than more traditional chronological metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1243
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 14 2020


  • biological age
  • gamma oscillations
  • magnetoencephalography
  • methylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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