Blog Archives

Swallowing Intentional Off-State in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease: Preliminary Study

Frontal cortical activation is elicited when subjects have been instructed not to initiate a sensorimotor task. The goal of this preliminary fMRI study was to examine BOLD response to a “Do Not Swallow” instruction (an intentional “off-state”) in the context of other swallowing tasks in 3 groups of participants (healthy young, healthy old, and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD)). Overall, the older group had larger, bilaterally active clusters in the cortex, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during the intentional swallowing off-state; this region is commonly active in response inhibition studies. Disease-related differences were evident where the AD group had significantly greater BOLD response in the insula/operculum than the old. These findings have significant clinical implications for control of swallowing across the age span and in neurodegenerative disease. Greater activation in the insula/operculum for the AD group supports previous studies where this region is associated with initiating swallowing. The AD group may have required more effort to “turn off” swallowing centers to reach the intentional swallowing off-state.

from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Impact of Sensory Acuity on Auditory Working Memory Span in Young and Older Adults

The impact of sensory acuity, processing speed, and working memory capacity on auditory working memory span (L-span) performance at 5 presentation levels was examined in 80 young adults (18–30 years of age) and 26 older adults (60–82 years of age). Lowering the presentation level of the L-span task had a greater detrimental effect on the older adults than on the younger ones. Furthermore, the relationship between sensory acuity and L-span performance varied as a function of age and presentation level. These results suggest that declining acuity plays an important explanatory role in age-related declines in cognitive abilities.

from Psychology and Aging

The Rise and Fall of Word Retrieval Across the Lifespan

Picture-naming performance for 48 black-and-white drawings was investigated in 1,145 Hebrew speakers, ages 5–86. Both a linear and a curvilinear quadratic model fit the data, reflecting an increase in ability with age as well as an increase followed by a decrease beyond that linear rise. Late-life performance was more affected by access difficulty than was early-life performance, with children’s responses limited by lexicon size. Immigrants performed more poorly than nonimmigrants, but an identical correlation between participant age and naming scores was found in both groups. We discuss the role of vocabulary funds and controlled access in naming pictures throughout life.

from Psychology and Aging

Transfer of Task-Switching Training in Older Age: The Role of Verbal Processes

This study investigated the influence of verbal self-instructions (VSI) on the transfer of task-switching training in older adults (56–78 years). We applied an internally cued switching paradigm in a pretest–training–posttest design. Training-related improvements were not modulated by VSI. Transfer (the pretest–posttest reduction of switch costs) was most pronounced when participants applied the VSI at posttest after practicing the switching task without VSI. The results indicate that in contrast to transfer of executive control training, transfer of (verbal) strategy training seems to be limited and that VSI is most beneficial when the task-switching abilities are already well practiced.

from Psychology and Aging

Aging and Directed Forgetting in Episodic Memory: A Meta-Analysis

In this meta-analysis, we examined the effects of aging on directed forgetting. A cue to forget is more effective in younger (d = 1.17) than in older (d = 0.81) adults. Directed-forgetting effects were larger (a) with the item method rather than with the list method, (b) with longer presentation times, (c) with longer postcue rehearsal times, (d) with single words rather than with verbal action phrases as stimuli, (e) with shorter lists, and (f) when recall rather than recognition was tested. Age effects were reliably larger when the item method was used, suggesting that these effects are mainly due to encoding differences.

from Psychology and Aging