Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 September 2015
Intra-individual variability (IIV) and the change of attentional functions have been reported to be susceptible to both healthy ageing and pathological ageing. The current study aimed to evaluate the IIV of attention and the age-related effect on alerting, orienting, and executive control in cognitively healthy older adults.
We evaluated 145 Chinese older adults (age range of 65–80 years, mean age of 72.41 years) with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery and the Attention network test (ANT). A two-step strategy of analytical methods was used: Firstly, the IIV of older adults was evaluated by the intraindividual coefficient of variation of reaction time (ICV-RT). The correlation between ICV-RT and age was used to evaluate the necessity of subgrouping. Further, the comparisons of ANT performance among three age groups were performed with processing speed adjusted.
Person's correlation revealed significant positive correlations between age and IIV (r = 0.185, p = 0.032), age and executive control (r = 0.253, p = 0.003). Furthermore, one-way ANOVA comparisons among three age groups revealed a significant age-related disturbance on executive control (F = 4.55, p = 0.01), in which oldest group (group with age >75 years) showed less efficient executive control than young-old (group with age 65–70 years) (Conventional score, p = 0.012; Ratio score, p = 0.020).
Advancing age has an effect on both IIV and executive attention in cognitively healthy older adults, suggesting that the disturbance of executive attention is a sensitive indicator to reflect healthy ageing. Its significance to predict further deterioration should be carefully evaluated with prospective studies.
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