Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Differential Effects of Aging on Executive Functions" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Whillma Quenicka, Student, School of Psychology; Tonya L. Bennett, Student, School of Psychology; Henry Soper, Faculty, School of Psychology

Objectives: Although declines in executive functioning over age are expected, one wonders about the comparative trajectories of those who are particularly strong or weak in these abilities. Therefore, we looked at the age trajectories for those 1 1/3 SD above and below the mean as well as those at the mean.

Methods: Data were drawn from a popular comprehensive set of normative data for the Expanded Halstead-Reitan battery. Norms for 12 years of education were used for average (t=50) and low (t=37) functioning, while those for 16 years of education were used for high functioning (t=63). Normative data for Trails A, Trails B, Category Test, and Letter and Animal Fluency were used and performances were compared to those of the 20-34 year group. Results: Trails A, Trails B, the Category test, and Animal Fluency show uniform linear deterioration for all groups to about age 65 of almost two SD and then little further deterioration to age 80. Letter Fluency performance shows little deterioration by age 80 for the high functioning group, but a bit more for the average and low groups.

Conclusions: This study showed the executive functions in most cases deteriorate about the same across the different levels of functioning. By age 80 those in the average or below average groups are relatively defective in executive functioning compared to the young group. Being in the superior range does not protect the individual from the deterioration, but the deterioration, and therefore level of functioning, will be only to average levels.

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