Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic and glutamatergic neurotransmissions in the prefrontal cortex decreases with age. Further, cognitive function mediated through the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) also declines with age. Although neuroimaging studies have demonstrated decreased levels of these substances, direct neurophysiological data investigating the effect of aging in the DLPFC in human subjects is lacking. The advent of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with electroencephalography (EEG) has allowed for the assessment of functional neurotransmission in vivo. In the present study, we examined short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) in a group of older adults (> 60 yrs) to evaluate the strength of GABAA and glutamate-mediated neurotransmission in the DLPFC, compared to younger adults (18-59 yrs). Older adults showed an increase of amplitude of N100 by the SICI paradigm, while N45 amplitude was increased and N100 amplitude was decreased by ICF. Moreover, these modulations significantly correlated with age. Our findings provide evidence for age-related alterations of excitatory and inhibitory functions in the prefrontal cortex in healthy adults. Future studies may aim to explore these neurophysiological relationships in the DLPFC in pathological forms of aging that affect cortical functioning such as mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
- Aging effect
- Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)
- Intracortical facilitation (ICF)
- Short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI)