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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

versão impressa ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.6 no.1 São Paulo jan./mar. 2012

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642012DN06010005 

ORIGINAL ARTICLES

Executive functions and sustained attention:Comparison between age groups of 19-39 and 40-59 years old

FUNÇÕES EXECUTIVAS E ATENÇÃO SUSTENTADA: COMPARAÇÃO ENTRE ADULTOS DE 19-39 E 40-59 ANOS DE IDADE

Camila Rosa de Oliveira1 

Ana Cristina Pedron2 

Léia Gonçalves Gurgel3 

Caroline Tozzi Reppold4 

Rochele Paz Fonseca5 

1Psychologist, Master's Student at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Porto Alegre RS, Brazil. Supported by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology Research Group (GNCE).

2Psychologist, Master's Student at Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre (UFCSPA), Porto Alegre RS, Brazil. Supported by the Programa de Reestruturação e Expansão das Universidades Federais (REUNI)/

3Speech Therapist, Master's Student at UFCSPA. Supported by REUNI Brazil;

4Psychologist, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, UFCSPA. Supported by productivity grant 2F, CNPq Brazil.

5Speech Therapist, Psychologist, Adjunct Professor at the Psychology Department, Post-Graduate Program in Psychology, Human Cognition, GNCE, PUCRS. Supported by productivity grant 2, CNPq.


ABSTRACT

Few studies involving the cognition of middle-aged adults are available in the international literature, particularly investigating the process of cognitive aging, executive components and attention.

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to investigate whether there are differences in performance on neuropsychological tasks of executive functions and sustained attention between two age groups.

Methods:

The sample consisted of 87 adults aged from 19 to 59 years old, divided into two groups according to the age variable (younger adults and middle-aged adults). All participants were Brazilian and had no sensory, psychiatric or neurological disorders; subjects also had no history of alcohol abuse, and no self-reported use of illicit drugs or antipsychotics. The neuropsychological instruments administered were the Hayling Test, Trail Making Test, Bells Test and verbal fluency tasks.

Results:

Groups showed no significant differences in relation to sociodemographic variables, educational level or frequency of reading and writing habits. The younger adult group performed better than the middle-aged group on tasks that involved mainly processing speed, cognitive flexibility and lexical search.

Conclusions:

These findings serve as a valuable reference for cognitive processing in middle-aged adults, since a large number of comparative studies focus only on the younger and later phases of adulthood. Additional studies are needed to investigate possible interaction between different factors such as age and education.

Key words: age groups; executive function; inhibition; attention

RESUMO

Na literatura internacional são escassos os estudos envolvendo a cognição de adultos de meia idade, principalmente quando o objetivo é investigar o processo de envelhecimento cognitivo, de componentes executivos e de atenção.

Objetivos:

Este estudo teve como objetivo verificar se existem diferenças no desempenho em tarefas neuropsicológicas que examinam componentes das funções executivas e da atenção sustentada entre dois grupos etários.

Métodos:

A amostra foi constituída de 87 adultos com idades entre 19-59 anos, divididos em dois grupos de acordo com a variável idade (adultos jovens e adultos de idade intermediária). Os participantes eram originalmente brasileiros e não apresentavam desordem sensorial (não corrigida), psiquiátrica ou neurológica, além de história de abuso de álcool, drogas ilícitas e antipsicóticos autorrelatadas. Os instrumentos utilizados foram o Teste Hayling, Trail Making Test, Teste de Cancelamento dos Sinos e tarefas de fluência verbal.

Resultados:

Os grupos não apresentaram diferenças significativas em relação às variáveis sociodemográficas, além de elevado nível de escolaridade e alta frequência de hábitos de leitura e escrita. O grupo de adultos jovens apresentou melhor desempenho do que o grupo de idade intermediária em tarefas que envolviam, principalmente, velocidade de processamento, flexibilidade cognitiva e busca lexical.

Conclusões:

Estes resultados fornecem referências para o processamento cognitivo também em adultos de idade intermediária, visto que um grande número de estudos comparativos foca apenas nas fases inicial e mais avançada da vida adulta. Estudos adicionais são necessários para investigar a possível interação entre fatores como idade e educação.

Palavras-chave: grupos etários; funções executivas; inibição; atenção

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.

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Received: December 20, 2011; Accepted: February 20, 2012

Camila Rosa de Oliveira. Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul - 90619-900 Porto Alegre RS - Brasil. E-mail: oliveira.crd @gmail.com

Disclosure: The authors report no conflits of interest

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