Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 27–36 | Cite as

The effects of aging on the brain activation pattern during a speech perception task: an fMRI study

  • Hanani Abdul MananEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Franz
  • Ahmad Nazlim Yusoff
  • Siti Zamratol-Mai Sarah Mukari
Original Article


In the present study, brain activation associated with speech perception processing was examined across four groups of adult participants with age ranges between 20 and 65 years, using functional MRI (fMRI). Cognitive performance demonstrates that performance accuracy declines with age. fMRI results reveal that all four groups of participants activated the same brain areas. The same brain activation pattern was found in all activated areas (except for the right superior temporal gyrus and right middle temporal gyrus); brain activity was increased from group 1 (20–29 years) to group 2 (30–39 years). However, it decreased in group 3 (40–49 years) with further decreases in group 4 participants (50–65 years). Result also reveals that three brain areas (superior temporal gyrus, Heschl’s gyrus and cerebellum) showed changes in brain laterality in the older participants, akin to a shift from left-lateralized to right-lateralized activity. The onset of this change was different across brain areas. Based on these findings we suggest that, whereas all four groups of participants used the same areas in processing, the engagement and recruitment of those areas differ with age as the brain grows older. Findings are discussed in the context of corroborating evidence of neural changes with age.


fMRI Speech perception processing Neural deterioration Brain laterality 



We thank Sa’don Samian from Department of Radiology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, for the assistance in fMRI scans. We also thank Mohammad Hairol Isa from Jabatan Kesihatan Masyarakat Universiti Kebangsaan Medical Centre, for his help on managing older participants. We also thank Noorazrul Azmie Yahya from Diagnostic Imaging and Radiotherapy Program, School of Diagnostic and Applied Health Sciences, for his ideas, and insight. This work is supported by the Research University Grant UKM GUP-SK-07-020-205.

Conflict of interest

The author certify that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanani Abdul Manan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth A. Franz
    • 2
  • Ahmad Nazlim Yusoff
    • 1
  • Siti Zamratol-Mai Sarah Mukari
    • 3
  1. 1.Diagnostic Imaging and Radiotherapy Program, School of Diagnostic and Applied Health Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and fMRIotagoUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Audiology Program, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaKuala LumpurMalaysia

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