Lower brain glucose metabolism in normal ageing is predominantly frontal and temporal: A systematic review and pooled effect size and activation likelihood estimates meta-analyses

Hamish A. Deery, Robert Di Paolo, Chris Moran, Gary F. Egan, Sharna D. Jamadar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This review provides a qualitative and quantitative analysis of cerebral glucose metabolism in ageing. We undertook a systematic literature review followed by pooled effect size and activation likelihood estimates (ALE) meta-analyses. Studies were retrieved from PubMed following the PRISMA guidelines. After reviewing 635 records, 21 studies with 22 independent samples (n = 911 participants) were included in the pooled effect size analyses. Eight studies with eleven separate samples (n = 713 participants) were included in the ALE analyses. Pooled effect sizes showed significantly lower cerebral metabolic rates of glucose for older versus younger adults for the whole brain, as well as for the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes. Among the sub-cortical structures, the caudate showed a lower metabolic rate among older adults. In sub-group analyses controlling for changes in brain volume or partial volume effects, the lower glucose metabolism among older adults in the frontal lobe remained significant, whereas confidence intervals crossed zero for the other lobes and structures. The ALE identified nine clusters of lower glucose metabolism among older adults, ranging from 200 to 2640 mm3. The two largest clusters were in the left and right inferior frontal and superior temporal gyri and the insula. Clusters were also found in the inferior temporal junction, the anterior cingulate and caudate. Taken together, the results are consistent with research showing less efficient glucose metabolism in the ageing brain. The findings are discussed in the context of theories of cognitive ageing and are compared to those found in neurodegenerative disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1277
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • ageing
  • brain glucose metabolism
  • lifespan
  • meta-analysis
  • PET
  • systematic review

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