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Experienced stress produces inhibitory deficits in old adults' Flanker task performance: First evidence for lifetime stress effects beyond memory

Marshall, AC and Cooper, NR and Geeraert, N (2016) 'Experienced stress produces inhibitory deficits in old adults' Flanker task performance: First evidence for lifetime stress effects beyond memory.' Biological Psychology, 113. 1 - 11. ISSN 0301-0511

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Abstract

© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Studies regarding aged individuals' performance on the Flanker task differ with respect to reporting impaired or intact executive control. Past work has explained this discrepancy by hypothesising that elderly individuals use increased top-down control mechanisms advantageous to Flanker performance. This study investigated this mechanism, focussing on cumulative experienced stress as a factor that may impact on its execution, thereby leading to impaired performance. Thirty elderly and thirty young participants completed a version of the Flanker task paired with electroencephalographic recordings of the alpha frequency, whose increased synchronisation indexes inhibitory processes. Among high stress elderly individuals, findings revealed a general slowing of reaction times for congruent and incongruent stimuli, which correlated with alpha desynchronisation for both stimulus categories. Results found high performing (low stress) elderly revealed neither a behavioural nor electrophysiological difference compared to young participants. Therefore, rather than impacting on top-down compensatory mechanisms, findings indicate that stress may affect elderly participants' inhibitory control in attentional and sensorimotor domains.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2015 16:03
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 20:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15419

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