Modulation of attention networks serving reorientation in healthy aging

Yasra Arif, Rachel K. Spooner, Alex I. Wiesman, Christine M. Embury, Amy L. Proskovec, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Orienting attention to behaviorally relevant stimuli is essential for everyday functioning and mainly involves activity in the dorsal and ventral frontoparietal networks. Many studies have shown declines in the speed and accuracy of attentional reallocation with advancing age, but the underlying neural dynamics remain less understood. We investigated this age-related decline using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and a Posner task in 94 healthy adults (22-72 years old). MEG data were examined in the time-frequency domain, and significant oscillatory responses were imaged using a beamformer. We found that participants responded slower when attention reallocation was needed (i.e., the validity effect) and that this effect was positively correlated with age. We also found age-related validity effects on alpha activity in the left parietal and beta in the left frontal-eye fields from 350-950 ms. Overall, stronger alpha and beta responses were observed in younger participants during attention reallocation trials, but this pattern was reversed in the older participants. Interestingly, this alpha validity effect fully mediated the relationship between age and behavioral performance. In conclusion, older adults were slower in reorienting attention and exhibited age-related alterations in alpha and beta responses within parietal and frontal regions, which may reflect increased task demands depleting their compensatory resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12582-12597
Number of pages16
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2020


  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Oscillations
  • Posner
  • Validity effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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