Dr Dorothea Hämmerer, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL: Departmental Seminar Series 2017/18
Hosted by Elizabeth Maylor
Refreshments in Common room at 3.30pm
Neuronal loss in noradrenergic (NA) structures of the brain stem (Locus Coeruleus, LC) during ageing is comparable to neuronal loss in dopaminergic nuclei. Animal and pharmacological studies show that noradrenergic modulation supports a wide range of higher cognitive functions, including memory encoding, selective attention, and cognitive flexibility. However, we don’t know yet to what extent altered LC function or altered NA modulation impacts cognitive function in ageing. I present results from three studies which investigate the relevance of age differences in LC structure and function for adult age differences in emotional memory and decision making, using structural imaging and pupillometry (pupil dilation can serve as a proxy measure for functional LC responses). Pupillometric data indicate an altered responsiveness of the ageing NA system during memory encoding and decision making. Structural LC measures suggest a likely impact of reduced LC integrity on memory performance in ageing.