Age-related changes of frontal-midline theta is predictive of efficient memory maintenance

Z. Kardos, B. Tóth, R. Boha, B. File, M. Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


Frontal areas are thought to be the coordinators of working memory processes by controlling other brain areas reflected by oscillatory activities like frontal-midline theta (4-7. Hz). With aging substantial changes can be observed in the frontal brain areas, presumably leading to age-associated changes in cortical correlates of cognitive functioning. The present study aimed to test whether altered frontal-midline theta dynamics during working memory maintenance may underlie the capacity deficits observed in older adults. 33-channel EEG was recorded in young (18-26. years, N= 20) and old (60-71. years, N= 16) adults during the retention period of a visual delayed match-to-sample task, in which they had to maintain arrays of 3 or 5 colored squares. An additional visual odd-ball task was used to be able to measure the electrophysiological indices of sustained attentional processes. Old participants showed reduced frontal theta activity during both tasks compared to the young group. In the young memory maintenance-related frontal-midline theta activity was shown to be sensitive both to the increased memory demands and to efficient subsequent memory performance, whereas the old adults showed no such task-related difference in the frontal theta activity. The decrease of frontal-midline theta activity in the old group indicates that cerebral aging may alter the cortical circuitries of theta dynamics, thereby leading to age-associated decline of working memory maintenance function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 25 2014


  • Aging
  • Frontal-midline theta
  • Sustained attention
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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