Education has been suggested to play a protective role against the development of age-related dementias. Accordingly, we examined modulation of functional activation during working memory by age and education. Eight older individuals with a college education, six older individuals with a high school education, and eight younger individuals with a college education performed a working memory task during O 15 [water] PET scanning. In a voxel-by-voxel whole brain search, older participants with less education demonstrated greater left frontal activation relative to older participants with more education. Older participants with more education demonstrated greater right precuneus activation relative to older participants with less education. This suggests that older less educated participants may have used additional frontal resources to compensate for dysfunctional parietal cortex. These results occurred in the context of similar activation in well-educated younger and older participants. Younger participants had one unique area of activation in the left posterior parietal cortex and no differences in frontal activation were observed between these two groups. The results of this study indicate the need to consider education in age-related neuroimaging studies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health