Dopamine may account for differences in cognitive performance

This 2015 German human study found:

“Dopamine may account for adult age differences in brain signal variability.”

The researchers administered amphetamine to the subjects to boost their dopamine levels, and measured their cognitive performance on several working memory tests under fMRI:

“Older adults expressed lower brain signal variability at placebo, but met or exceeded young adult..”

brain signal variability levels when on speed.

The order of the tests also influenced the results. Older adults who received amphetamine during the initial series of tests performed better on placebo during the second series of tests.


As is often done, the researchers focused on effects and not causes. I didn’t see questionnaires or investigation into possible historical or biological factors for reduced dopamine levels, leaving the researchers with age as the only correlated-but-not-causative explanation.

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/24/7593.full “Amphetamine modulates brain signal variability and working memory in younger and older adults”

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