Cerebral hemodynamics plays an important role in cognitive performance, and as such, age-related cognitive dysfunction and cerebral hypoperfusion increase the risk of dementia. However, age-related changes in cerebral oxygenation and cognitive function remain unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate age-related declines in cerebral oxygenation and executive function cross-sectionally. Ninetyeight healthy Japanese adults (age range: 23-79 years; 40 males, 58 females) participated in the present study using local advertisements. The participants were divided into 4 age groups: young (20-39 years; M15/F7), 50s (50-59 years; M10/F12), 60s (60-69 years; M9/F31), and 70s (70-79 years; M6/F8). We measured oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) signal change in the prefrontal cortex during the Stroop task, and calculated Stroop interference time in cross-sectional design. This test is widely used to measure the ability to properly control attention and behavior in executing tasks, and to evaluate executive functions mainly associated with the prefrontal cortex. Oxy-Hb signal changes in the left prefrontal cortex in the 60s and 70s groups were significantly lower than those in the young group (both P < 0.05). Additionally, Stroop interference time was significantly longer in the 60s and 70s groups than in the young group (both P < 0.05). Furthermore, differences in oxy-Hb signal change between the left and right prefrontal cortex were evident only in the young group. These results suggest that the age-related decrease in executive function is associated with decrease in the cerebral oxygenation hemodynamics in the left prefrontal cortex.
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