Normal aging is associated with a variety of neurologic changes including declines in cognition, memory, and motor activity. These declines correlate with neuronal changes in synaptic structure and function. Degradation of brain network activity and connectivity represents a likely mediator of age-related functional deterioration resulting from these neuronal changes. Human studies have demonstrated both general decreases in spontaneous cortical activity and disruption of cortical networks with aging. Current techniques used to study cerebral network activity are hampered either by limited spatial resolution (e.g. electroencephalography, EEG) or limited temporal resolution (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI). Here we utilize mesoscale imaging of neuronal activity in Thy1-GCaMP6f mice to characterize neuronal network changes in aging with high spatial resolution across a wide frequency range. We show that while evoked activity is unchanged with aging, spontaneous neuronal activity decreases across a wide frequency range (0.01–4 Hz) involving all regions of the cortex. In contrast to this global reduction in cortical power, we found that aging is associated with functional connectivity (FC) deterioration of select networks including somatomotor, cingulate, and retrosplenial nodes. These changes are corroborated by reductions in homotopic FC and node degree within somatomotor and visual cortices. Finally, we found that whole-cortex delta power and delta band node degree correlate with exploratory activity in young but not aged animals. Together these data suggest that aging is associated with global declines in spontaneous cortical activity and focal deterioration of network connectivity, and that these reductions may be associated with age-related behavioral declines.
- Functional connectivity