Aging is associated with frontal subcortical microangiopathy and executive cognitive dysfunction, suggesting that elderly individuals may have impaired metabolic activation of cerebral blood flow to the frontal lobes. We used transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to examine the cerebral blood flow response to executive control and visual tasks in the anterior and posterior cerebral circulations and to determine the effects of healthy aging on cerebral blood flow regulation during cognitive tasks. Continuous simultaneous anterior cerebral artery (ACA) and posterior cerebral artery (PCA) blood flow velocities (BFVs) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were measured in response to word stem completion (WSC) and a visual search (VS) task in 29 healthy subjects (14 young, 30 ± 1.5 years; 15 old, 74 ± 1.4 years). We found that: (1) ACA and PCA blood flow velocities are both significantly increased during WSC and VS cognitive tasks, (2) ACA and PCA activations were task specific in our young volunteers, with ACA > PCA BFV during the WSC task and PCA > ACA BFV during the VS task, (3) while healthy elderly subjects also had PCA > ACA BFV during the VS task, they did not have ACA > PCA activation during the WSC task, and (4) healthy elderly subjects tend to have overall greater increases in BFV during both cognitive tasks. We conclude that TCD can be used to monitor cerebrovascular hemodynamics during the performance of cognitive tasks. Our data suggest that there is differential blood flow increase in the ACA and PCA in young versus elderly subjects during cognitive tasks.
- Cerebral blood flow velocity
- Transcranial Doppler ultrasound
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience