The impact of age and sex on the oscillatory dynamics of visuospatial processing

Alex I. Wiesman, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The ability to dynamically allocate neural resources within the visual space is supported by a number of spectrally-specific oscillatory responses, and such visuospatial processing has been found to decline moderately with age and differ by sex. However, the direct effects of age and sex on these oscillatory dynamics remains poorly understood. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), structural magnetic resonance imaging, and advanced source reconstruction and statistical methods, we investigated the impact of aging and sex on behavioral performance and the underlying neural dynamics during visuospatial processing. In a large sample spanning a broad age range, we find that a number of prototypical attention and perception network components, both spectrally- and spatially-defined, exhibit complex and uniquely informative relationships with age and sex. Specifically, neural responses in the theta range (4–10 Hz) were found to covary with chronological age in prefrontal and motor cortices, signifying a possible relationship between age and cognitive control. Further, we found that beta (18–24 Hz) activity covaried with age across a large swath of the somato-motor strip, supporting previous findings of motor planning and execution deficits with increasing age. Finally, gamma-frequency (48–70 Hz) oscillations were found to exhibit robust covariance with age in superior parietal and temporo-parietal areas, indicating that the mapping of saliency in visual space is modulated by the normal aging process. Interestingly, behavioral performance and some of these oscillatory neural responses also exhibited interactions between age and sex, indicating sex differences in the evolution of the neural coding of visual perception as age increases. In particular, men were found to have stronger correlations between age and neural oscillatory responses during task performance than women in lateral occipital and superior temporal regions in the alpha band and in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the gamma band, while women exhibited more robust covariance between age and neural responses than men in inferior temporal and medial prefrontal cortex in the theta range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-520
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019


  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Neural oscillations
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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