Assessment of Sensory Function in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project

Department of Health Studies, University of Chicago, 4841 South Maryland Avenue MC2007, Chicago, IL 40437, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 07/2009; 64 Suppl 1(Supplement 1):i76-85. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbp048
Source: PubMed


The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project assessed functioning of all 5 senses using both self-report and objective measures. We evaluate the performance of the objective measures and model differences in sensory function by gender and age. In the process, we demonstrate how to use and interpret these measures.
Distance vision was assessed using a standard Sloan eye chart, and touch was measured using a stationary 2-point discrimination test applied to the index fingertip of the dominant hand. Olfactory function (both intensity detection and odor identification) was assessed using odorants administered via felt-tip pens. Gustatory function was measured via identification of four taste strips.
The performance of the objective measures was similar to that reported for previous studies, as was the relationship between sensory function and both gender and age.
Sensory function is important in studies of aging and health both because it is an important health outcome and also because a decline in functioning can be symptomatic of or predict other health conditions. Although the objective measures provide considerably more precision than the self-report items, the latter can be valuable for imputation of missing data and for understanding differences in how older adults perceive their own sensory ability.

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Available from: Thomas Hummel, Mar 11, 2014
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    • "Moreover, although often undervalued, it is common knowledge that a gradual loss in the functionality of all five senses typically accompanies the aging process. Sensory deficits that indeed begin to appear early in life, can lead to social isolation, depression and disability and can represent symptoms or be predictive of age-associated diseases, thus representing an important social and economical burden for the rapidly expanding elderly population of our society (Lang et al., 2009; Nusbaum, 1999; Schumm et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Progressive neuronal deterioration accompanied by sensory functions decline is typically observed during aging. On the other hand, structural or functional alterations of specific sensory neurons extend lifespan in the nematode C. elegans. Hormesis is a phenomenon by which the body benefits from moderate stress of various kinds which at high doses are harmful. Several studies indicate that different stressors can hormetically extend lifespan in C. elegans and suggest that hormetic effects could be exploited as a strategy to slow down aging and the development of age-associated (neuronal) diseases in humans. Mitochondria play a central role in the aging process and hormetic-like bimodal dose-response effects on C. elegans lifespan have been observed following different levels of mitochondrial stress. Here we tested the hypothesis that mitochondrial stress may hormetically extends C. elegans lifespan through subtle neuronal alterations. In support of our hypothesis we find that life-lengthening dose of mitochondrial stress reduces the functionality of a subset of ciliated sensory neurons in young animals. Notably, the same pro-longevity mitochondrial treatments rescue the sensory deficits in old animals. We also show that mitochondrial stress extends C. elegans lifespan acting in part through genes required for the functionality of those neurons. To our knowledge this is the first study describing a direct causal connection between sensory neuron dysfunction and extended longevity following mitochondrial stress. Our work supports the potential anti-aging effect of neuronal hormesis and open interesting possibility for the development of therapeutic strategy for age-associated neurodegenerative disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Experimental gerontology
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    • "Although clinicians have long noted the nonspecific nature of sensory and motor signs in relation to many disorders, to the best of our knowledge, this review is the first scholarly demonstration of their pattern of appearance. Notably, other Table 2 Sensory and/or motor irregularities appear across disorders a (Continued) Bolton et al., 1998; Hollander et al., 1990; Karadag et al., 2011; Mataix-Cols et al., 2003; Peng et al., 2012 [184] [185] [186] [187] [188] Alzheimer disease Sensory Gallacher et al., 2012; Kato-Narita et al., 2011; Leandri et al., 2009; Pettersson et al., 2002; Pettersson et al., 2005; Rolland et al., 2009; Suttanon et al., 2012; Waite et al., 2000 [189] [190] [191] [192] [193] [194] [195] [196] Motor Kluger et al., 1997; Kluger et al., 1997; Oakley et al., 2003; Ott et al., 1995; Pettersson et al., 2005 [193] [197] [198] [199] [200] NSS Lam et al., 2005; Seidl et al., 2009 [201] [202] Traumatic brain injury Sensory Gagnon et al., 1998; Galvin et al., 2009; Katz-Leurer et al., 2008; Kuhtz-Buschbeck et al., 2003 [203] [204] [205] [206] Motor Gagnon et al., 1998 [203] Normal aging Sensory Sensory Cole, 1991; Desrosiers et al., 1996; Fukunaga et al., 2005; Li et al., 2004; Petrosino and Fucci, 1989; Pohl et al., 2003; Ranganathan et al., 2001; Schumm et al., 2009; Shimokata and Kuzuyam, 1995; Stevens, 1992; Stevens and Cruz, 1996; Zhang et al., 2011 [207] [208] [209] [210] [211] [212] [213] [214] [215] [216] [217] [218] Bartoshuk et al., 1986; Elsner, 2001 [219] [220] Motor Motor Ashendorf et al., 2009; Bennett et al., 2012; Kauranen and Vanharanta, 1996; Smith et al., 1999; Vernazza-Martin et al., 2008 [221] [222] [223] [224] [225] Kleinman, 1982; Santos et al., 2007 [226] [227] NSS Chan et al., 2011 [228] a ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; NSS, neurological soft sign. irregularities included within the group of secondary symptoms––such as self-regulation and eating and sleeping difficulties––have also been associated with a wide range of disorders. "
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    ABSTRACT: In addition to the primary symptoms that distinguish one disorder from the next, clinicians have identified, yet largely overlooked, another set of symptoms that appear across many disorders, termed secondary symptoms. In the emerging era of systems neuroscience, which highlights that many disorders share common deficits in global network features, the nonspecific nature of secondary symptoms should attract attention. Herein we provide a scholarly review of the literature on a subset of secondary symptoms----sensory and motor. We demonstrate that their pattern of appearance----across a wide range of psychopathologies, much before the full-blown disorder appears, and in healthy individuals who display a variety of negative symptoms----resembles the pattern of appearance of network abnormalities. We propose that sensory and motor secondary symptoms can be important indicators of underlying network aberrations and thus of vulnerable brain states putting individuals at risk for psychopathology following extreme circumstances.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
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    • "The aim of the current study was to further investigate taste identification accuracy and error types in adults with ASC (above the age of 18 years) using 'Taste Strips'. This chemical taste test has been used in other clinical conditions such as diabetes, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer's disease (Naka et al. 2010; Schumm et al. 2009; Welge-Lussen et al. 2011). Women with ADHD and Bulimia Nervosa for example show average taste identification (Weiland et al. 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sensory issues are widely reported in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). Since taste perception is one of the least studied senses in ASC we explored taste identification in adults with ASC (12 males, 11 females) compared to control participants (14 males, 12 females). 'Taste strips' were used to measure taste identification overall, as well as bitter, sour, sweet and salty tastes. Results revealed lower taste scores overall in the ASC group, as well as for bitter, sour and sweet tastes. Salty taste scores did not differ between the groups. Examining error types showed that adults with ASC more often misidentified a taste as salty or as no taste. Future studies should investigate underlying mechanisms of taste identification difficulties in ASC.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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