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Temporally and spatially distinct theta oscillations dissociate a language-specific from a domain-general processing mechanism across the age trajectory

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Beese,  Caroline
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Meyer,  Lars
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Vassileiou,  Benedict
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Beese, C., Meyer, L., Vassileiou, B., & Friederici, A. D. (2017). Temporally and spatially distinct theta oscillations dissociate a language-specific from a domain-general processing mechanism across the age trajectory. Scientific Reports, 7: 11202. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11632-z.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-F6A5-8
Abstract
The cognitive functionality of neural oscillations is still highly debated, as different functions have been associated with identical frequency ranges. Theta band oscillations, for instance, were proposed to underlie both language comprehension and domain-general cognitive abilities. Here we show that the ageing brain can provide an answer to the open question whether it is one and the same theta oscillation underlying those functions, thereby resolving a long-standing paradox. While better cognitive functioning is predicted by low theta power in the brain at rest, resting state (RS) theta power declines with age, but sentence comprehension deteriorates in old age. We resolve this paradox showing that sentence comprehension declines due to changes in RS theta power within domain-general brain networks known to support successful sentence comprehension, while low RS theta power within the left-hemispheric dorso-frontal language network predicts intact sentence comprehension. The two RS theta networks were also found to functionally decouple relative to their independent internal coupling. Thus, both temporally and spatially distinct RS theta oscillations dissociate a language-specific from a domain-general processing mechanism.