Sensory capability and information integration independently explain the cognitive status of healthy older adults.
While there is evidence that sensory processing and multisensory integration change with age, links between these alterations and their relation to cognitive status remain unclear. In this study, we assessed sensory thresholds and performance of healthy younger and older adults in a visuotactile delayed match-to-sample task. Using Bayesian structural equation modelling (BSEM), we explored the factors explaining cognitive status in the group of older adults. Additionally, we applied transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to a parieto-central network found to underlie visuotactile interactions and working memory matching in our previous work. Response times and signal detection measures indicated enhanced multisensory integration and enhanced benefit from successful working memory matching in older adults. Further, tACS caused a frequency-specific speeding (20 Hz) and delaying (70 Hz) of responses. Data exploration suggested distinct underlying factors for sensory acuity and sensitivity d’ on the one side, and multisensory and working memory enhancement on the other side. Finally, BSEM showed that these two factors labelled ‘sensory capability’ and ‘information integration’ independently explained cognitive status. We conclude that sensory decline and enhanced information integration might relate to distinct processes of ageing and discuss a potential role of the parietal cortex in mediating augmented integration in older adults.
PMID: 33384454 [PubMed – in process]
Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 31;10(1):22437
Authors: Misselhorn J, Göschl F, Higgen FL, Hummel FC, Gerloff C, Engel AK