Inputs to prefrontal cortex support visual recognition in the aging brain

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Scientific Reports

Predictive coding models of brain function propose that top-down cortical signals promote efficient neural codes by carrying predictions of upcoming sensory events. We hypothesized that older brains would employ these codes more prominently given their longer repertoire of sensory experience. We measured the connectivity underlying stimulus-evoked responses in cortical visual networks using electroencephalography and dynamic causal modeling and found that in young adults with reported normal or corrected-to-normal vision, signals propagated from early visual regions and reverberated along reciprocal connections to temporal, parietal and frontal cortices, while in contrast, the network was driven by both early visual and prefrontal inputs in older adults with reported normal or corrected-to-normal vision. Previously thought of as exceptions to the rule of bottom-up signal propagation, our results demonstrate a prominent role for prefrontal inputs in driving vision in aged brains in line with lifespan-dependent predictive neural codes.

Cognitive neuroscience, Computational neuroscience