Age-related delay in visual and auditory evoked responses is mediated by white- and grey- matter differences

Age-related delay in visual and auditory evoked responses is mediated by white- and grey- matter differences

Many aspects of human behaviour slow down with age, which are thought to reflect a reduction of information processing speed in the brain. To measure the speed of simple visual and auditory processing delays study participants are typically presented with a flash of light or an auditory beep. The brain’s electrical responses to these stimuli reveal a small but measurable age-related delay in the signal. These delays can contribute to poor vision and hearing in elderly, particularly in noisy environments or places with poor visibility. While this delay has long been assumed to arise from age-related structural changes in the brain, this link has not previously been shown. Furthermore, age-related changes in brain structure come in many forms, and it is unclear which parts of the brain might be the cause.

A new study published in Nature Communications by Dr Darren Price and colleagues at the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU), Cambridge, shows for the first time that age-related delay of visual information processing is mediated by deterioration of white matter fibres that carry information from the retina to the brain, while delays in auditory signals are mediated by deterioration of the grey matter in the brain regions responsible for processing auditory information. This work demonstrates that there are multiple structural changes in the brain with age that influence even early sensory processing, providing a more detailed understanding of healthy ageing and the consequences for age-related changes in our vision and hearing.

The full article can be read here – Nature Communications: Age-related delay in visual and auditory evoked responses is mediated by white- and gray-matter differences: D. Price, L. K. Tyler, R. Neto Henriques, K. L. Campbell, N. Williams, M.S. Treder, J. R. Taylor, Cam-CAN &  R. N. A. Henson

For more information please contact Darren Price