Differences in Cortical Sources of the Event-Related P3 Potential Between Young and Old Participants Indicate Frontal Compensation

The event-related P3 potential, as elicited in auditory signal detection tasks, originates from neural activity of multiple cortical structures and presumably reflects an overlap of several cognitive processes.


The fact that the P3 is affected by aging makes it a potential metric for age-related cognitive change. The P3 in older participants is thought to encompass frontal compensatory activity in addition to task-related processes. The current study investigates this by decomposing the P3 using group independent component analysis (ICA). Independent components (IC) of young and old participants were compared in order to investigate the effects of aging. Exact low-resolution tomography analysis (eLORETA) was used to compare current source densities between young and old participants for the P3-ICs to localize differences in cortical source activity for every IC. One of the P3-related ICs reflected a different constellation of cortical generators in older participants compared to younger participants, suggesting that this P3-IC reflects shifts in neural activations and compensatory processes with aging. This P3-IC was localized to the orbitofrontal/temporal, and the medio-parietal regions. For this IC, older participants showed more frontal activation and less parietal activation as measured on the scalp. The differences in cortical sources were localized in the precentral gyrus and the parahippocampal gyrus. This finding might reflect compensatory activity recruited from these cortical sources during a signal detection task.

Brain Topography, 2018, 31 (1), 35–46

Published Mar. 5, 2018 7:00 AM