Connectome-based models predict attentional control in aging adults.Neuroimage 2019; 186:1-13N
There are well-characterized age-related differences in behavioral and neural responses to tasks of attentional control. However, there is also increasing recognition of individual variability in the process of neurocognitive aging. Using connectome-based predictive modeling, a method for predicting individual-level behaviors from whole-brain functional connectivity, a sustained attention connectome-based prediction model (saCPM) has been derived in young adults. The saCPM consists of two large-scale functional networks: a high-attention network whose strength predicts better attention and a low-attention network whose strength predicts worse attention. Here we examined the generalizability of the saCPM for predicting inhibitory control in an aging sample. Forty-two healthy young adults (n = 21, ages 18-30) and older adults (n = 21, ages 60-80) performed a modified Stroop task, on which older adults exhibited poorer performance, indexed by higher reaction time cost between incongruent and congruent trials. The saCPM generalized to predict reaction time cost across age groups, but did not account for age-related differences in performance. Exploratory analyses were conducted to characterize the effects of age on functional connectivity and behavior. We identified subnetworks of the saCPM that exhibited age-related differences in strength. The strength of two low-attention subnetworks, consisting of frontoparietal, medial frontal, default mode, and motor nodes that were more strongly connected in older adults, mediated the effect of age group on performance. These results support the saCPM's ability to capture attention-related patterns reflected in each individual's functional connectivity signature across both task context and age. However, older and younger adults exhibit functional connectivity differences within components of the saCPM networks, and it is these connections that better account for age-related deficits in attentional control.