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Sander, Myriam C.; Maier, Patrizia M.; Napiorkowski, Natan; Finke, Kathrin ORCID: 0000-0001-8546-7141; Töllner, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0001-5399-9952; Müller, Hermann J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4774-5654; Lindenberger, Ulman; Werkle-Bergner, Markus ORCID: 0000-0002-6399-9996; Wiegand, Iris ORCID: 0000-0003-2160-7939 (16. March 2019): Age Differences in Hemispheric Lateralization in Spatial and Verbal Visual Working Memory. bioRxiv
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Abstract

Due to hemispheric specialization of the human brain, neural signatures of visual working memory (WM) performance are expected to differ between tasks involving verbal versus spatial memoranda. Theories of cognitive aging suggest a reduction of hemispheric specialization in older adults. Using behavioral and neural WM capacity markers, we assessed hemispheric lateralization in younger and older adults performing a spatial or verbal visual WM task. Participants encoded information presented in the left or right hemifield. We observed behavioral advantages for spatial stimuli processed in the right hemisphere and for verbal stimuli processed in the left hemisphere. While younger adults showed lateralization in both tasks, older adults showed lateralization only in the verbal task. Lateralization was assessed by the contralateral delay activity (CDA) on the neural level. CDA amplitudes displayed hemispheric lateralization for verbal versus spatial material, but this effect was age-invariant. While our findings support right-hemispheric specialization for spatial information maintenance, and left-hemispheric specialization for verbal information maintenance, we could not confirm a generalized reduction in hemispheric lateralization at older ages.