Vol. 4 nº 2 - Apr/May/Jun de 2010
Original Article Páginas: 91 a 97

Episodic memory, concentrated attention and processing speed in aging: A comparative study of Brazilian age groups

Authors Rochele Paz Fonseca1, Nicolle Zimmermann2, Lilian Cristine Scherer3, Maria Alice de Mattos Pimenta Parente4, Bernadette Ska5


keywords: neuropsychological tests, aging, age effect, memory, attention.

Neuropsychological studies on the processing of some specific cognitive functions throughout aging are essential for the understanding of human cognitive development from ages 19 to 89. Objectives: This study aimed to verify the occurrence of differences in the processing of episodic memory, concentrated attention and speed of attentional processing among four age groups of adults. Methods: A total of 136 neurologically healthy adults, aged 19-89, with 9 or more years of schooling, took part in the study. Participants were divided according to four age groups: young, middle-aged, elderly and oldest old adults. Subtests of the Brief Neuropsychological Evaluation Instrument (NEUPSILIN) were applied for the cognitive assessment. Mean score of corrected answers and of response times were compared between groups by means of a one-way ANOVA test with post-hoc Scheffe procedures and ANCOVA including the co-variables of years of schooling and socio-economical scores. Results: In general, differences in performance were observed from 60 years old on. Only the episodic memory task of delayed recall reflected differences from the age of around 40 onwards and processing speed from around the age of 70 onwards. Thus, differences were found between the age groups regarding their cognitive performance, particularly between young adults and elderly adults, and young adults and oldest old adults. Conclusions: Our research indicates that the middle-aged group should be better analyzed and that comparative cross-sectional studies including only extreme groups such as young and elderly adults are not sufficient.


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