The functional magnetic resonance imaging hemodynamic response to faces remains stable until the ninth decade

Amy Brodtmann, Aina Puce, Ari Syngeniotis, David Darby, Geoffrey Donnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of aging on blood oxygen level dependent signal changes and the hemodynamic response (HDR) remain controversial. Using functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, we examined the HDR properties and activated voxel counts in striate and extrastriate cortex in 18 healthy elderly subjects in response to a simple visual paradigm. Subjects of equal number and gender were prospectively separated into groups from the seventh, eighth, and ninth decades. Activation data were compared with those of 6 healthy subjects aged 30-39 under the same conditions. We found no systematic difference in HDR amplitude, shape, or latency across these groups. However, increasing age over 60 was associated with a significant decline in activated voxel counts, relative to the young controls. The results are discussed in comparison with previously published studies and in the context of the effects of aging on MR signal change. While robust activation can be produced in the striate and extrastriate cortices until the end of the ninth decade, caution should be exercised when comparing data from subjects in different decades. As functional magnetic resonance imaging is increasingly being used to examine patients with stroke and dementia, these results emphasize the importance of careful selection and age matching of control subjects when comparing with a patient population affected by disease processes associated with aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-528
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • BOLD
  • Extrastriate cortex
  • Functional MRI
  • Hemodynamic response
  • Striate cortex
  • Vision

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