Adriana Lucia Ruiz Rizzo (ESR 6)

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Intrinsic functional connectivity in relation to visual attention in healthy and pathological aging



My project aims at the study of the relation between large-scale intrinsic functional connectivity and visual attention in both healthy and pathological aging. On one hand, intrinsic functional connectivity (IFC) refers to the spontaneous coherent infra-slow frequency (i.e. <0.1 Hz) activity between different brain areas. Specific intrinsic brain networks can be revealed by examining the IFC of the brain. This can be done using the BOLD signal obtained from the resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). On the other hand, visual attention can be assessed within the framework of the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) of Claus Bundesen (1990). Within TVA, attentional impairments in both healthy and pathological aging have been found. Thus, investigating whether, and how, large-scale intrinsic functional connectivity relates to the attentional impairments found in both healthy and pathological aging can help us understand (1) how the brain is functionally reorganized due to aging and to Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and (2) how specific components of visual attention are represented in (a) the healthy and (b) the pathological aging-brain at rest.

Supervisors: Kathrin Finke and Hermann Müller