A major focus of the Reuter-Lorenz Lab has been the cognitive neuroscience of aging. Among the most important discoveries from our work is the finding that older adults tend to use both hemispheres for tasks that younger adults can perform with more lateralized engagement of the cortex. Since first reporting this effect in 1999 and 2000, it has been one of the most intriguing, influential and debated discoveries in the cognitive neuroscience of aging. Ongoing research in our lab and elsewhere continues to seek understanding of the functions served by the additional regions of brain activity recruited by healthy older adults. Some of our recent and most influential papers are listed below.
Figure: Compensation-related utilization of neural circuits hypothesis (CRUNCH). Both older and younger adults experience increased activation with increased task demand. Relative to younger adults, older adults over-activate at lower levels of task demand and under-activate at high levels of task demand within the same region of interest. According to CRUNCH, this over-activation allows older adults to match the performance of younger adults at lower task difficulties. However, as task demand increases, older adults reach a resource ceiling and their performance declines in comparison to younger adults (Reuter-Lorenz & Cappell, 2009).