Presentation Title

The Effects of Anxiety on Older Adults

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

It is well known that anxiety disrupts cognitive functions such as attention and working memory. Mella et al (2018) found that the detrimental effects of anxiety on cognition are more prominent in older adults with low working memory capacity. Although researchers have found a link between anxiety and cognition, discrepancies regarding what aspects of anxiety (i.e., the worry and/or arousal) affect cognitive functions still exist, particularly, given that direct measures of arousal are largely missing from such findings. This has important implications when obtaining reliable research and clinical interpretations of older adults’ cognitive abilities. The current study looked to analyze the relationship that anxiety components (worry and arousal) have on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults.

Thirty six participants, twenty young adults (18-25 yrs), and sixteen older adults (over 64 yrs) underwent physiological and psychological testing to assess levels of anxiety during the implementation of cognitive assessments, including the California Verbal Learning Test 3 (CVLT3), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), and the Trail Making Tests (TMT) part A and B. Physiological arousal was measured during the tests using a thermal imaging camera (FLIR E-60) capturing face temperature, a blood pressure monitor (CNAP Monitor 500), and two samples of salivary cortisol. Participants also completed a short version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-6). Multiple regression analyses were implemented to examine the correlation between measures of anxiety and cognitive function in each assessment and across the age-groups.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Claudia Gonzalez and Mark Rakobowchuk

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The Effects of Anxiety on Older Adults

It is well known that anxiety disrupts cognitive functions such as attention and working memory. Mella et al (2018) found that the detrimental effects of anxiety on cognition are more prominent in older adults with low working memory capacity. Although researchers have found a link between anxiety and cognition, discrepancies regarding what aspects of anxiety (i.e., the worry and/or arousal) affect cognitive functions still exist, particularly, given that direct measures of arousal are largely missing from such findings. This has important implications when obtaining reliable research and clinical interpretations of older adults’ cognitive abilities. The current study looked to analyze the relationship that anxiety components (worry and arousal) have on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults.

Thirty six participants, twenty young adults (18-25 yrs), and sixteen older adults (over 64 yrs) underwent physiological and psychological testing to assess levels of anxiety during the implementation of cognitive assessments, including the California Verbal Learning Test 3 (CVLT3), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), and the Trail Making Tests (TMT) part A and B. Physiological arousal was measured during the tests using a thermal imaging camera (FLIR E-60) capturing face temperature, a blood pressure monitor (CNAP Monitor 500), and two samples of salivary cortisol. Participants also completed a short version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-6). Multiple regression analyses were implemented to examine the correlation between measures of anxiety and cognitive function in each assessment and across the age-groups.