‘Executive’ Functions and Normal Aging: Selective Impairment in Conditional Exclusion Compared to Abstraction and Inhibition
Some executive functions may be selectively impaired in normal aging over and above the general cognitive decline.
We examined the performance of healthy high functioning young (n = 77) and older (n = 57) individuals on three 'executive' tests: conditional exclusion, abstraction, and inhibition of prepotent responses. We compared their relationships to each other and to other cognitive functions including attention, psychomotor speed and working memory.
Conditional exclusion was significantly more impaired than abstraction or inhibition in the elderly compared to the younger group and unlike them, showed a nonlinear relationship with age. These findings were independent of other cognitive functions. Analysis of PCET performance characteristics showed that older individuals were particularly impaired in attaining the last of the three achievable categories, were slower, and had fewer error monitoring resources compared to the younger group.
Conditional exclusion shows an age-related pattern of impairment distinct from inhibition and abstraction. We propose that in healthy well-functioning individuals, it taps processes integrating task set establishment and shifting in context of accumulating information. It may thus be useful as a specific marker of complex cognitive functions in studies of normal cognitive aging and in early detection of cognitive dysfunction.
Figures in this publication
Available from: Laura D Baker
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Sir Harold Himsworth's prescient observations 75 years ago have recently been expanded to include a clear relationship between insulin resistance and central nervous system function. Insulin is a master regulator of corporeal ageing in all known species, determining the rate and expression of ageing in multiple body systems. Thus, it is not surprising that insulin also plays an important role in brain ageing and cognitive decline that is associated with pathological brain ageing. Brain ageing is accompanied by reduced insulin effectiveness, either by an inadequate cellular response to insulin or by insulin deficiency attributable to reduced insulin transport across the blood-brain barrier. Age-associated brain insulin abnormalities may contribute to cognitive decline in ageing, as have been documented in older adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension. With more extreme pathology, brain insulin resistance may be associated with neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, and the condition which precedes Alzheimer's disease, known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment. In the following review, we discuss the mechanisms through which insulin resistance may induce or potentiate pathological brain ageing and thereby create a neurobiological environment that promotes neurodegeneration and associated cognitive decline. This topic is timely, given that insulin resistance-associated conditions such as diabetes and obesity have reached epidemic proportions. The prevalence of such chronic conditions, in combination with a rapidly ageing population, may result in a corresponding increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders. Fortunately, insulin resistance-associated conditions are amenable to both pharmacologic and lifestyle interventions that may reduce the deleterious impact of insulin resistance on the ageing brain.
Diabetic Medicine 12/2011; 28(12):1463-75. DOI:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03464.x · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: There is evidence that age related changes in episodic memory are heterogeneous and result from diverse pathologies. To test this, we examined performance of healthy high-functioning younger (N=41, ages 18-60 y) and older (N=58, ages 61-83 y) individuals in tests of associative memory, logical memory and memory in executive and object-recognition domains. We compared their relationships to each other and to other cognitive functions, including, psychomotor speed and verbal and spatial working memory. Older individuals showed significantly greater reduction in an index of the ability to learn new associations (NAL) than for memory in executive and object-recognition domains. Age-related reduction in NAL and in logical memory was of similar severity, but the two measures showed only moderate correlation when age and other cognitive functions were controlled for. NAL shows an age-related pattern of change distinct from memory in executive and object-recognition domains and from logical (item) memory. We propose that in healthy well-functioning individuals, NAL taps processes which support binding of newly learned association in context of accumulating information, a key function of the hippocampus. NAL may thus serve as a selective marker of complex, hippocampus-based, cognitive functions in studies of normal cognitive aging and of its possible relationship to early dementia.
Psychiatry Research 03/2012; 197(1-2):135-9. DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2012.01.025 · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Little is known about how normal healthy aging affects decision-making competence. In this study 538 participants (age 18-80 years) performed the Game of Dice Task (GDT). Subsamples also performed the Iowa Gambling Task as well as tasks measuring logical thinking and executive functions. In a moderated regression analysis, the significant interaction between age and executive components indicates that older participants with good executive functioning perform well on the GDT, while older participants with reduced executive functions make more risky choices. The same pattern emerges for the interaction of age and logical thinking. Results demonstrate that age and cognitive functions act in concert in predicting the decision-making performance.
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 11/2012; 35(1). DOI:10.1080/13803395.2012.740000 · 2.08 Impact Factor
Data provided are for informational purposes only. Although carefully collected, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The impact factor represents a rough estimation of the journal's impact factor and does not reflect the actual current impact factor. Publisher conditions are provided by RoMEO. Differing provisions from the publisher's actual policy or licence agreement may be applicable.