Healthy aging delays the neural processing of face features relevant for behavior by 40 ms

Katarzyna Jaworska*, Fei Yi, Robin A.A. Ince, Nicola J. van Rijsbergen, Philippe G. Schyns, Guillaume A. Rousselet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


Fast and accurate face processing is critical for everyday social interactions, but it declines and becomes delayed with age, as measured by both neural and behavioral responses. Here, we addressed the critical challenge of understanding how aging changes neural information processing mechanisms to delay behavior. Young (20–36 years) and older (60–86 years) adults performed the basic social interaction task of detecting a face versus noise while we recorded their electroencephalogram (EEG). In each participant, using a new information theoretic framework we reconstructed the features supporting face detection behavior, and also where, when and how EEG activity represents them. We found that occipital-temporal pathway activity dynamically represents the eyes of the face images for behavior ~170 ms poststimulus, with a 40 ms delay in older adults that underlies their 200 ms behavioral deficit of slower reaction times. Our results therefore demonstrate how aging can change neural information processing mechanisms that underlie behavioral slow down.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2019


  • aging
  • EEG
  • face processing
  • information processing
  • mutual information


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