Processing speed, or the rate at which tasks can be performed, is a robust predictor of age-related cognitive decline and an indicator of independence among older adults. This review examines evidence for neurobiological predictors of age-related changes in processing speed, which is guided in part by our source based morphometry findings that unique patterns of frontal and cerebellar gray matter predict age-related variation in processing speed. These results, together with the extant literature on morphological predictors of age-related changes in processing speed, suggest that specific neural systems undergo declines and as a result slow processing speed. Future studies of processing speed – dependent neural systems will be important for identifying the etiologies for processing speed change and the development of interventions that mitigate gradual age-related declines in cognitive functioning and enhance healthy cognitive aging.
Keywords: aging, processing speed, cerebellum, prefrontal, source based morphometry
Citation: Eckert MA (2011) Slowing down: age-related neurobiological predictors of processing speed Front. Neurosci. 5:25. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2011.00025
Received: 22 November 2010;
Accepted: 15 February 2011;
Published online: 11 March 2011.
Edited by:Anna C. Nobre, University of Oxford, UK
Reviewed by:Robert T. Knight, University of California Berkeley, USA
Copyright: © 2011 Eckert. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
*Correspondence: Mark A. Eckert, Hearing Research Program, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, 135 Rutledge Avenue, MSC 550, Charleston, SC 29425-5500 USA. email@example.com.