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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 10 - Aging and Attention

Summary

Cognitive changes that accompany the gradual degradation of neural systems are countervailed by a set of attention-related processes that serve to reorganize and maintain function with advancing age. This chapter focuses on the potential role of the right hemisphere fronto-parietal network in maintenance of adequate sustained attention to the environment by older adults, as well as self-monitoring of changes in their cognition and behavior over time. Modulation of norepinephrine activity in the locus coeruleus, via its impact on this right lateralized network, may be of particular importance in increasing the capacity of older people to preserve cognitive functioning as a multitude of biological changes take place in their brains. We review studies demonstrating that noninvasive electrical brain stimulation to the right prefrontal cortex improves both sustained attention and error awareness, suggesting that this key interconnected hub region in the right hemisphere holds the potential to be exploited and upregulated in older adults to ameliorate deficits.