The Neurobiology of Working Memory Across the Adult Lifespan
How do changes in the brain that occur throughout life impact memory?
Working memory is the ability to store information in memory for short periods of time, such as remembering directions or a shopping list. The amount of information held in working memory is a fundamental for cognitive performance, and accounts for approximately 45% of overall intelligence in healthy individuals.
Although generally stable, working memory capacity changes with aging, peaking in the late teenage years, before declining in later life. These two periods in the lifespan also show pronounced changes in the brain’s structure and function, particularly in the white matter tracts that connect different brain regions, and in brain oscillations (aka brain waves).
This project aims to identify whether these changes in the brain’s structure, combined with age-related changes in the brain’s function, underlie changes in working memory.
The project team will use a novel combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and electroencephalography (EEG) to assess brain structure and function across three key different life stages: late adolescence (16-17 years); early adulthood (20-25 years) and late adulthood (65-85 years).
Understanding working memory capacity across the healthy life-span during these significant periods of aging can aid in the development of interventions to treat the symptoms of developmental or age-related neurological disorders.
Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Platform Access Grant – 2017.