Presentation Title

The Effects of Anxiety on Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Recent research suggests that working memory capacity, which declines with age, is a key moderator of anxiety and cognitive performance. Specifically, older adults with age-related cognitive decline are more vulnerable to the negative effects of anxiety – mainly, decreasing attention control and short-term memory capacity. The relationship between cognitive function and anxiety may be a key issue for older populations as cognitive assessments may induce anxiety, undermining the accurate diagnosis of their cognitive abilities. Our aim is to examine the relationship between anxiety and cognitive function in healthy older adults compared to young adults.

For this purpose, we recruited 20 young adults (18-25 yrs) and 16 older adults (65-70 yrs). All participants completed a State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire (STAI-6), and performed cognitive assessments which included the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT3), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Trail Making Tests (TMT) A and B. Additionally, an eye-tracking task, measuring antisaccade responses, was also implemented to examine inhibitory errors in two experimental blocks: (memory) delay and attention. Linear regression analysis was used to compare inhibition errors, anxiety scores and cognitive scores across age groups.

This study uniquely examined the relationship between anxiety and cognitive function during ecologically valid cognitive assessments in older adult populations. Our results show the distinct effects of anxiety between young adults and older adults and how these changes may be influenced by varying cognitive abilities. It also highlights the links between anxiety and cognitive function (attention and working memory), measured by objective and reliable eye-tracking methods.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Claudia Gonzalez

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The Effects of Anxiety on Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Recent research suggests that working memory capacity, which declines with age, is a key moderator of anxiety and cognitive performance. Specifically, older adults with age-related cognitive decline are more vulnerable to the negative effects of anxiety – mainly, decreasing attention control and short-term memory capacity. The relationship between cognitive function and anxiety may be a key issue for older populations as cognitive assessments may induce anxiety, undermining the accurate diagnosis of their cognitive abilities. Our aim is to examine the relationship between anxiety and cognitive function in healthy older adults compared to young adults.

For this purpose, we recruited 20 young adults (18-25 yrs) and 16 older adults (65-70 yrs). All participants completed a State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire (STAI-6), and performed cognitive assessments which included the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT3), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Trail Making Tests (TMT) A and B. Additionally, an eye-tracking task, measuring antisaccade responses, was also implemented to examine inhibitory errors in two experimental blocks: (memory) delay and attention. Linear regression analysis was used to compare inhibition errors, anxiety scores and cognitive scores across age groups.

This study uniquely examined the relationship between anxiety and cognitive function during ecologically valid cognitive assessments in older adult populations. Our results show the distinct effects of anxiety between young adults and older adults and how these changes may be influenced by varying cognitive abilities. It also highlights the links between anxiety and cognitive function (attention and working memory), measured by objective and reliable eye-tracking methods.