Swallowing disorders occur more frequently in older adults. However, the effects of the aging process on neural activation when swallowing are unclear. We aimed to identify neural regions activated during swallowing and evaluate changes in neural activation and neural networks with aging. Using a general linear model (GLM) and independent component (IC) analyses, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals were observed in the lateral precentral gyrus, postcentral gyrus, anterior insular cortices, supramarginal gyri, and medial frontal gyrus during swallowing. The right thalamus and anterior cingulate gyri were found to be active areas by GLM and IC analyses, respectively. In the correlational analyses, age was negatively correlated with BOLD signals of the lateral precentral gyri, postcentral gyri, and insular cortices in swallowing tasks. Additionally, correlation analyses between ICs of all participants and age revealed negative correlations in the right supramarginal gyrus, both anterior cingulate cortices, putamen, and cerebellum. In the network analysis, the BOLD signal positively correlated with age in the default mode network (DMN), and was negatively correlated in the lateral precentral gyri, postcentral gyri, and insular cortices. The amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations was significantly decreased in the DMN and increased in swallowing-related areas during swallowing tasks. These results suggest that aging has negative effects on the activation of swallowing-related regions and task-induced deactivation of the DMN. These changes may be used to detect early functional decline during swallowing.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korea Government (MSIT) (No. 2019R1A2C2003020).
© 2021, The Author(s).
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