, Volume 92, Issue 4-5, pp 452-461

Attentional, emotional and hormonal data in subjects of different ages

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Abstract

The differences in attentional style among subjects of different ages and the influence of emotionality on the attentional components were studied for a limited experimental period. Variation in the hormonal data and its relation to behavioural parameters were also evaluated. The subjects enrolled in the study were divided into four age groups (A 18–29, B 30–45, C 46–59, D 60–77 years). The attentional tests involved different types of attention: alert, go/no-go, divided attention and working memory. Emotionality was assessed on the basis of skin conductance, heart rate and frontalis muscle tone. Testosterone (T), free testosterone (fT), non-specifically bound testosterone (NST), sex hormone binding globulin (sHBG), oestradiol, cortisol and adrenocorticotrophic hormone were determined in the plasma. The data were analysed to identify endocrine and behavioural differences related to sex and age. The results showed an influence of age on reaction time (RT) and RT variability. This was particularly evident for groups C and D with respect to A in the simple (alert) and complex RT tests (go/no-go and working memory). Divided attention, with the highest RT, showed a clear distinction between group A and the other groups. The difference in frontalis electromyography (EMG) (test vs control) increased with age, while the autonomic responses (skin conductance and heart rate) did not vary. In most attentional tests, the age-related reduction of RT was associated with increased T, fT and NST and decreased cortisol.