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Combined frontal and parietal P300 amplitudes indicate compensated cognitive processing across the lifespan (2014). Dinteren, R. V., Arns, M., Jongsma, M. L., Kessels, R. P. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Abstract In the present study the frontal and parietal P300, elicited in an auditory oddball paradigm were investigated in a large sample of healthy participants (N=1,572), aged 6-87. According to the concepts of the compensation-related utilization of neural circuits hypothesis (CRUNCH) it was hypothesized that the developmental trajectories of the frontal P300 would reach a maximum in amplitude at an older age than the amplitude of the parietal P300 amplitude. In addition, the amplitude of the frontal P300 was expected to increase with aging in adulthood in contrast to a decline in amplitude of the parietal P300 amplitude. Using curve-fitting methods, a comparison was made between the developmental trajectories of the amplitudes of the frontal and parietal P300. It was found that the developmental trajectories of frontal and parietal P300 amplitudes differed significantly across the lifespan. During adulthood, the amplitude of the parietal P300 declines with age, whereas both the frontal P300 amplitude and behavioral performance remain unaffected. A lifespan trajectory of combined frontal and parietal P300 amplitudes was found to closely resemble the lifespan trajectory of behavioral performance. Our results can be understood within the concepts of CRUNCH. That is, to compensate for declining neural resources, older participants recruit additional neural resources of prefrontal origin and consequently preserve a stable behavioral performance. Though, a direct relation between amplitude of the frontal P300 and compensatory mechanisms cannot yet be claimed.

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