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Alexandra J Fiocco

Alexandra J Fiocco
Toronto Metropolitan University · Psychology

PhD

About

100
Publications
45,969
Reads
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4,086
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
Ryerson University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • Undergraduate courses: Biological Psychology; Adjustment, Stress and Coping; Special Topics in Neuropsychology Seminar Graduate courses: Special Topics in Biopsychology
January 2013 - present
August 2011 - May 2016
Ryerson University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)

Publications

Publications (100)
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: The objective of the current study was to investigate the effect of a brief mindfulness practice on perceived stress and sustained attention, and to determine whether priming the benefits of mindfulness meditation enhances this effect. Methods: Two hundred and twenty undergraduate students were randomly assigned to a control conditio...
Article
Allostatic load (AL) is a multisystemic index of biological wear and tear which is associated with poor health outcomes. In recent years, researchers have examined the association between dietary pattern intake and AL; however, no studies to date have examined the relationship between AL and consumption of a Mediterranean diet. Blood and urine samp...
Article
Background Omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are suggested to play a role in the prevention of cognitive decline. The evidence may be inconsistent due to methodological issues including interrelations with other long-chain (14 or more carbons) fatty acids (LCFAs) and use of sex as a confounding factor rather than an effect modifier....
Article
Early life adversity is consequential for poor cognitive health in mid to late-life. Early life adversity is associated with higher allostatic load, a biological indicator of physiological dysregulation due to cumulative wear-and-tear from chronic stress. Higher allostatic load is also associated with poorer cognitive function across the lifespan....
Article
Full-text available
Omega-3 fatty acids (FAs) have been suggested as modifiable protective factors for cognitive decline because of their neuroprotective properties. However, the evidence is still inconsistent regarding types of omega-3 FAs, and the probable interrelation with other circulating long chain FAs (LCFAs). This study aimed to evaluate associations between...
Article
Full-text available
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures were put into place to flatten the pandemic curve. It was projected that older adults were at increased risk for poor psychological and health outcomes resulting from increased social isolation and loneliness. However, little research has supported this projection among community-dwel...
Preprint
Full-text available
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures were put into place to flatten the pandemic curve. It was projected older adults were at increased risk for poor psychological and health outcomes resulting from increased social isolation and loneliness. However, little re-search has supported this projection among community-dwelling...
Article
With a rise in the prevalence of depression among undergraduate students, it is important to identify potential antecedents and modifiable factors in illness development. One of the most well studied etiological predictors of depression among youth and among young adults is the experience of real or perceived stress. However, research further sugge...
Article
Research examining the effects of group-based mindfulness interventions on executive functioning have yielded inconsistent findings, with some reports of enhanced performance and other reports of null findings. Inconsistencies in the literature may be due to methodological differences across studies, including the type of control group employed and...
Article
Background: Prospective studies suggest that tea consumption may decrease the risk for cognitive impairment in late life. However, little research has examined the association between tea consumption and cognitive performance across multiple domains. In addition, no research has examined the benefit of tea consumption on cognitive performance amon...
Article
Full-text available
Due to financial and mobility barriers, a majority of older adults living in collective dwellings are no longer able to engage in tourism, a leisure activity that contributes to quality of life and wellbeing. Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) may serve as a programmatic tool to facilitate tourism. This pilot study examined the effects of VR tourism ex...
Article
Objectives This study examined the effect of dietary patterns and engagement in cognitive stimulating lifestyle (CSL) behaviors on the trajectory of global cognition, executive function (EF), and verbal episodic memory (VEM). Methods Western and prudent dietary patterns were empirically derived using food frequency questionnaire responses from 350...
Article
Previous research suggests that high allostatic load (AL), a biological indicator of physiological dysregulation due to chronic stress, is associated with poor cognitive functioning. To date, no studies have systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate the strength and consistency of this relationship. The objective of this study was to condu...
Poster
Heightened stress levels are associated with emotional eating and increased consumption of highly palatable foods. This behaviour can have numerous negative health consequences and research is needed to investigate the potential effect-modifiers in this association. Physical activity (PA) is associated with an increase in healthy food intake and lo...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Consumption of a prudent dietary pattern rich in healthy nutrients is associated with enhanced cognitive performance in older adulthood, while a Western dietary pattern low in healthy nutrients is associated with poor age-related cognitive function. Sex differences exist in dietary intake among older adults; however, there is a paucity...
Article
Full-text available
Filial piety plays an important role in the parent-child relationship in Chinese culture. To date, the majority of studies have focused on filial piety attitudes and expectations from the perspectives of the adult child. With only a few studies examining filial piety from the parent’s perspectives, there is a paucity of studies that examines the di...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Consumption of a prudent dietary pattern rich in healthy nutrients is associated with enhanced cognitive performance in older adulthood, while a Western dietary pattern low in healthy nutrients is associated with poor age-related cognitive function. Sex differences exist in dietary intake among older adults; however, there is a paucity...
Article
Background: Ninety percent of long-term care (LTC) residents experience some form of cognitive impairment. Social support may benefit cognition by decreasing depressive symptoms and loneliness, which are commonly reported among LTC residents. Objective: To investigate the effects of the Java Music Club (JMC), a manualized social support program, on...
Article
Objectives: Perceived stress and adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern have been identified as independent predictors of cognitive function in older adulthood; however, no studies to date have examined the interaction between perceived stress and diet adherence on cognitive health. This cross-sectional study investigated the synergistic effect...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Consumption of a prudent dietary pattern rich in healthy nutrients is associated with enhanced cognitive performance in older adulthood, while a Western dietary pattern low in healthy nutrients is associated with poor age-related cognitive function. Sex differences exist in dietary intake among older adults; however, there is a paucity o...
Article
Full-text available
Allostatic load (AL), an index of multisystem physiological dysregulation due to chronic stress, has been identified as a predictor of poor health outcomes in late life. Research suggests that perceived social support (PSS) improves health outcomes by buffering the negative effects of stress on wellbeing and increasing health promoting behaviours i...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The objective of this study was to assess the effect of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention on cognitive function and well-being in family caregivers. Methods Family caregivers (N = 57) of a person with a neurodegenerative disease were recruited and assigned to an 8-week MBSR program (n = 33) or a psychoeducation-so...
Article
Stress exposure over the lifespan is robustly associated with accelerated cognitive decline in later life. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is shown to regulate activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association betweenthe BDNF polymorphism and indices of stress among adults aged...
Article
The current study examined the factor structure and psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the Revised Life Orientation Test (CLOT-R) in a sample of 342 community-dwelling older Chinese immigrants in Canada (mean age = 71.99, SD = 5.62; 58.5% female). Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that the CLOT-R yields a two-factor model wit...
Article
Peripheral biomarkers have shown significant value in predicting brain health and may serve as a useful proxy measurement in the assessment of evidence-based lifestyle behavior modification programs, including physical activity and nutrition programs, that aim to maintain cognitive function in late life. The aim of this systematic review was to elu...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: In this study, we examined whether Chinese and White women with and without a history of breast cancer exhibit differences in physiological and psychological stress profiles. Methods: Diurnal and reactive salivary cortisol profiles and psychological stress patterns of 41 breast cancer survivors and 58 healthy women were assessed. Results: Brea...
Article
Full-text available
The current randomized controlled study employed a mixed methods approach to better elucidate the benefits of mindfulness meditation for stress management among healthy older adults. Ninety-six older adults were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI, n = 57) or a reading and relaxation program (RRP, n = 39). Participants...
Article
Dietary carbohydrates have been shown to influence cognitive performance and satiety in children. However, it remains unclear whether the carbohydrate source is a primary determinant of cognitive performance and satiety. The objective was to compare the effects of white potatoes and other carbohydrate-containing foods on cognitive performance, glyc...
Article
Objectives: Positive Expectations Regarding Aging serve as a protective factor of healthy aging; however, negative stereotypes regarding aging continue to dominate popular aging discourse. It is proposed that trait mindfulness (TM) is associated with aging expectations through the cultivation of openness, curiosity, and non-judgment to one’s though...
Article
Stress exposure over the lifespan is robustly associated with accelerated cognitive decline in late life. Researchers continue to investigate factors that determine individual differences in stress physiology. Brain derived neurotrophic factor is found to associate with cognitive trajectory in late life, and the Met allele of the functional Val66Me...
Poster
Full-text available
It is well-documented that perceived social support decreases the risks of depression in older adults. Past studies have also noted a negative relationship between ethnic identity and depression, especially among minority seniors. As the Canadian senior population becomes increasingly diverse, it is important to understand the interplay between eth...
Article
Recent studies of aging and decision making suggests that altruism increases with age. It is unclear, however, whether this pattern holds when choices are made under stress, as is often the case in real-world scenarios. The current study used an intertemporal choice task in which younger and older adults received a financial endowment before making...
Article
Full-text available
Given the increase in research suggesting benefit following cognitive training in older adults, researchers have started to investigate the potential moderating role of genetic polymorphisms on transfer effects. The objective of this study was to evaluate the moderating effect of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and brain-derived neurotrophic fa...
Article
Background With a rise in the aging population and a consequential rise in persons diagnosed with dementia comes an increase in the number of informal caregivers who are caring for a loved one. The objective of the proposed study was to assess the neurocognitive and psychological effects of caring for a person with dementia or a related neurodegene...
Article
Experimental and epidemiological studies suggested that exposure to lead (Pb) may influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. However, previous studies have yielded mixed results. We evaluated changes in basal salivary cortisol levels and acute cortisol responsivity to psychological stress in relation with blood Pb levels (BPb), in Cau...
Article
Despite consumer growth, few studies have evaluated the cognitive effects of gaming using mobile devices. This study examined the association between video game play platform and cognitive performance. Furthermore, the differential effect of video game genre (action versus nonaction) was explored. Sixty undergraduate students completed a video game...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Cognitive fluctuations (CFs) occur commonly in dementia of all types. While it is generally accepted that CFs can affect the clinical rating of dementia severity and neuropsychological performance, little is known about their impact on patients' activities of daily living (ADLs) and quality of life (QOL). Our study aims to explore the i...
Article
Objective: To examine the nature and frequency of cognitive fluctuations (CFs) among institutionalized persons with dementia. Method: A clinical interview and a medical chart review were conducted, and 55 patients were assigned a specific dementia diagnosis. The Severe Impairment Battery (SIB) was administered to assess cognitive function, and t...
Article
Full-text available
Stress is an insidious health risk that is commonly reported among university students. While research suggests that dog exposure may facilitate recovery from a stress response, little is known about the buffer effect of dog exposure on the stress response to a future stressor. This study examined whether interaction with a therapy dog could reduce...
Presentation
In Dr. Kim Lavoie (Chair), Innovations in behavioral medicine: how psychology can improve outcomes in chronic disease. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. Symposium.
Poster
Background: With population aging, prevention of cognitive decline has become of paramount interest to the general public. Biomarkers, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), decline with age and thus may be useful for predicting cognitive health in late life. Animal models have shown that IGF-1 plays a significant role in enhancing working m...
Article
Full-text available
This study explored the mediating role of sleep in the relationship between personality traits and depressive symptoms in a group of community-dwelling men and women (Mage = 57.92, SD = 4.00). Participants completed the short form NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies De...
Data
Dataset. Minimal dataset associated with this article. (SAV)
Article
Full-text available
Adults over the age of 65 years are now the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. Although individual differences exist, aging is commonly associated with impairments in executive function and episodic memory. Previous studies have shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can improve cognitive function in healthy younger a...
Article
With population aging and a projected exponential expansion of persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD), the development of treatment and prevention programs has become a fervent area of research and discovery. A growing body of evidence suggests that music exposure can enhance memory and emotional function in person with AD. However, there...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of review: Stress exacerbates mental illnesses such as depression but also appears to increase risk of dementia, suggesting a common mechanism for development of stress-induced affective and cognitive impairment. The purpose of this review is to address the question of whether anxiety 'damages' the brain, and to identify potential mechanis...
Chapter
The central nervous system (CNS) is a complex structure consisting of the brain and spinal cord. From conception to the end of life, the CNS is a dynamic system that develops and changes in response to genetic programming, time, and environmental change. This entry will discuss the CNS, its development, and the normal and pathological changes that...
Article
Full-text available
Given the rise in obesity and obesity-related disorders, understanding the relationship between stress, self-efficacy and food choice in young adulthood may have implications for preventing negative health outcomes later in life that stem from poor eating habits. The current study examined whether stress levels and diet self-efficacy may be associa...
Article
The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis production of the stress hormone cortisol interacts with the hippocampal formation and impacts memory function. A growing interest is to determine whether hippocampal volume (HV) predicts basal and/or reactive cortisol levels in young and older adults. Recent evidence shows that contextual features in testing...
Article
Full-text available
The cultivation of mindfulness has received increasing attention over the past 2 decades because of its association with increased psychological well-being and reduced stress-related health disorders. Given the robust positive association between perceived stress and cognitive impairment in late life, the current study evaluated the association bet...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Several studies have emphasized the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and inadequate response of the biological stress system. However, other factors related to SES are rarely considered, such as cultural values, social norms, organization, language and communication skills, which raises the need to investigate cross-country...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness training has increasingly been implemented in substance abuse treatment regimes with the goal of relapse prevention. Among the available treatments, Motivational Interviewing (MI) is reported to be the most effective form of treatment for transitional-age youths. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the effects of mindf...
Article
Canada is experiencing a rise in type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a known risk factor for accelerated cognitive decline and dementia. Within the context of an aging population, this will impose significant individual and societal burden, making the development of prevention programs imperative. This pilot study examines the effects of the Diabetes...
Article
The val66met polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNFMet) is associated with impaired learning/memory function, affective dysregulation and maladaptive personality traits. Here, we examine the potential relationship between the BDNFMet allele, introversion and declarative memory in middle-age adults. A total of 132 middle-ag...
Article
WhitfieldKeith E. (ed.). Focus on Biobehavioral Perspectives on Health in Late Life (Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, vol. 30). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2010 - Volume 31 Issue 3 - Alexandra J. Fiocco
Article
Background : A few weeks ago and for the first time in 20 years, US health officials have lowered the threshold for lead (Pb) poisoning from 10 to 5 g/dL in blood, but only in young children. However, elders are also a high-risk population when considering adverse effects of lead exposure. The association between low-level lead exposure and cogniti...
Article
Recent investigations suggest that genes that confer risk for panic disorder (PD) may moderate response to panicogenic agents in healthy volunteers. Given the potential role of the central cholecystokinin receptor (CCKBR) (CT) polymorphism alleles 26 and 27 in PD, the present study attempted to discern if these alleles moderated panicogenic sensiti...
Article
This study examines the association between sodium intake and its interaction with physical activity on cognitive function over 3 years in older adults residing in Québec, Canada. We analyzed a subgroup from the NuAge cohort (aged 67-84 years) with nutrient intake data, including sodium, from a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline....
Article
Full-text available
The allostatic load (AL) model represents an interdisciplinary approach to comprehensively conceptualize and quantify chronic stress in relation to pathologies throughout the life cycle. This article first reviews the AL model, followed by interactions among early adversity, genetics, environmental toxins, as well as distinctions among sex, gender,...
Article
F2-isoprostanes (F2-IsoP) are reportedly increased in dementia patients, and are considered a reliable biomarker of oxidation. However, few studies have examined the predictive value of peripheral F2-IsoP levels in non-demented older adults. This study assesses the association between plasma F2-IsoP and change in cognitive function in non-demented...
Article
Dementias and related cognitive disorders of the brain are strongly age-associated and prevalence is expected to rise dramatically with a rapidly aging population. As a result, there has been increasing attention on the prevention and treatment of cognitive decline associated with these conditions. A number of approaches have been designed to maint...
Article
Full-text available
We are in the midst of a tremendous increase in life expectancy, which gives rise to new medical, economic, and social challenges. To reduce burden and enhance the benefits associated with an aging population, research must elucidate factors that decrease age-related disability and increase quality of life in later years. For this reason, the conce...
Article
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that catalyzes the degradation of dopamine, is necessary for cognitive function. Few studies have examined the prospective association between COMT (val(158)met) genotype and cognition in older adults. We assessed a biracial cohort of 2,858 elderly subjects without dementia who were followed for 8 year...