Neural Dedifferentiation in the Aging Brain
Many cognitive abilities decline with age even in the absence of detectable pathology. Recent evidence indicates that age-related neural dedifferentiation, operationalized in terms of neural selectivity, may contribute to this decline. We review here work exploring the relationship between neural dedifferentiation, cognition, and age. Compelling evidence for age effects on neural selectivity comes from both non-human animal and human research. However, current data suggest that age does not moderate the observed relationships between neural dedifferentiation and cognitive performance. We propose that functionally significant variance in measures of neural dedifferentiation reflects both age-dependent and age-independent factors. We further propose that the effects of age on neural dedifferentiation do not exclusively reflect detrimental consequences of aging.