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Title: The integrity of dopaminergic and noradrenergic brain regions is associated with different aspects of late-life memory performance

Changes in dopaminergic neuromodulation play a key role in adult memory decline. Recent research has also implicated noradrenaline in shaping late-life memory. However, it is unclear whether these two neuromodulators have distinct roles in age-related cognitive changes. Here, combining longitudinal MRI of the dopaminergic substantia nigra–ventral tegmental area (SN-VTA) and noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) in younger (n = 69) and older (n = 251) adults, we found that dopaminergic and noradrenergic integrity are differentially associated with memory performance. While LC integrity was related to better episodic memory across several tasks, SN-VTA integrity was linked to working memory. Longitudinally, we found that older age was associated with more negative change in SN-VTA and LC integrity. Notably, changes in LC integrity reliably predicted future episodic memory. These differential associations of dopaminergic and noradrenergic nuclei with late-life cognitive decline have potential clinical utility, given their degeneration in several age-associated diseases.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Aging
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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