Age differences in callosal contributions to cognitive processes

Brett W. Fling, Melanie Chapekis, Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz, Joaquin Anguera, Jin Bo, Jeanne Langan, Robert C. Welsh, Rachael D. Seidler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In many cases bilateral cortical activation in older adults has been associated with better task performance, suggesting that a greater reliance on interhemispheric interactions aids performance. Interhemispheric communication is primarily mediated via the corpus callosum (CC), however with advancing age the anterior half of the CC undergoes significant atrophy. Here we determine whether there are age differences in the relationship between cross-sectional area of the CC and performance on cognitive tests of psychomotor processing speed and working memory. We found that older adults had significantly smaller callosal area in the anterior and mid-body of the CC than young adults. Furthermore, older adults with larger size in these callosal areas performed better on assessments of working memory and processing speed. Our results indicate that older adults with larger size of the anterior half of the CC exhibit better cognitive function, although their performance was still poorer than young adults with similar CC size. Thus, while the capability for interhemispheric interactions, as inferred from callosal size, may provide performance benefits for older adults, this capacity alone does not assure protection from general performance decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2564-2569
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Corpus callosum
  • Processing speed
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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