A neural hallmark of auditory implicit learning is altered in older adults.
journal contributionposted on 20.08.2019, 11:51 by Sarah E. Donohue, Steffi Weinhold, Mircea A. Schoenfeld, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Jens-Max Hopf
Temporal regularities in the environment are often learned implicitly. In an auditory target-detection paradigm using EEG, Jongsma and colleagues (2006) showed that the neural response to these implicit regularities results in a reduction of the P3-N2 complex. Here, we utilized the same paradigm, this time in both young and old participants, to determine if this EEG signature of implicit learning was altered with age. Behaviorally, both groups of participants showed similar benefits for the presence of temporal regularity, with faster and more accurate responses given when the auditory targets were presented in a temporally regular vs. random pattern. In the brain, the younger adults showed the expected decrease in amplitude of this complex for regular compared to irregular trials. Older adults, in contrast, showed no difference in the amplitude of the P3-N2 complex between the irregular and regular condition. These data suggest that, although auditory implicit learning may be behaviorally spared in aging, older adults are not using the same neural substrates as younger adults to achieve this.