Changes in brain activity patterns in aging: The novelty oddball


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A decrease in the frontal lobes' efficiency is supposed to play a role in age‐related changes in cognitive function. If frontal lobes are involved in the maintenance of working memory, the elderly may require increased frontal activity because of more rapid memory decay. This is consistent with the fact that the P3 component of the eventrelated potential (ERP) has a more frontal orientation with increasing age. However, frontally distributed P3s are also observed in young people when novel stimuli are unexpectedly presented in an oddball paradigm. Young and old subjects were run in an auditory novelty oddball in which ERPs were recorded from 30 scalp sites. The young adults' P3s showed either a posterior (targets) or more frontally oriented (novels) scalp focus. The elderly were less accurate in their memory for the novel stimuli, and their P3s showed anterior and posterior foci to both targets and novels. The young adults' target P3s changed over time from a frontal to a posterior focus, whereas the old adults' did not. These results are consistent with decreased ability of the elderly to maintain the templates needed for stimulus categorization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-594
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Frontal lobe function
  • Novelty oddball paradigm
  • P3
  • Recognition memory peformance
  • Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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