Summary: Age and gender appear to influence the relationship between state stress and brain activation.
source: Kessler Foundation
To examine the relationship between age and fatigue, Kessler Foundation researchers conducted a new study using neuroimaging and self-report data.
Their findings were published online on May 9, 2022, at Frontiers in human neuroscience.
The authors are Glenn Wiley, Deauville, Amanda Bra Sesto, Helen M. Genova, PhD, and John DeLuca, PhD, of the Kessler Foundation. All of them have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Wylie is also a researcher with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for the Study of War-Related Injuries and Diseases in the New Jersey Health Care System.
Their study was the first to report the effects of gender and age on both ‘status’ and ‘trait’ fatigue, and the first to report fatigue-related differences in brain activation across age and across gender during a cognitively stressful task.
The ‘Status’ scale of stress measures an individual’s immediate experience of fatigue at the time of the test; The “trait” fatigue scale measures how much fatigue a person has experienced over a longer period of time, such as the previous four weeks.
The researchers collected data on trait stress and state fatigue from 43 healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 63. State stress was measured during fMRI scans while participants performed a cognitively challenging task.
The study was conducted at the Rocco Ortensio Center for Neuroimaging at the Kessler Foundation, a specialized facility dedicated solely to rehabilitation research. They found that older individuals reported less state stress.
Dr. Wylie, Director of the Ortenzio Center, commented: “Our neuroimaging data show that the role of the central frontal regions of the brain changes with age. Younger individuals may use these regions to combat fatigue, but this is not the case with older adults. Furthermore These findings suggest that women show greater resilience when faced with a stressful task.”
“This study is an important first step toward explaining some of the differences reported in the fatigue literature, by showing that state and trait measures of fatigue measure different aspects of fatigue, and that both age and gender appear to influence the relationship between state stress and brain activation,” concluded Dr. Weil.
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original search: open access.
“Fatigue across the lifespan of men and women: condition versus traitsBy Glenn R. Wiley et al. Frontiers in human neuroscience
Fatigue across the lifespan of men and women: condition versus traits
Goal: It is generally believed that fatigue worsens with age, but the literature is mixed: some studies show that older individuals experience more fatigue, while others report the opposite. Some inconsistencies in the literature may be related to gender differences in fatigue while others may be due to differences in instruments used to study fatigue, because the association between condition (currently) and trait (over a long period of time) measures of fatigue has been shown to be weak. The purpose of the current study was to examine both case and trait stress across age and gender using neuroimaging and self-report data.
Methods: We investigated the effects of age and gender in 43 healthy individuals on self-reported fatigue using the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS), a measure of trait fatigue. We also performed fMRI scans on these individuals and collected self-reported measures of condition fatigue using the Visual Analog Scale of Fatigue (VAS-F) during a stressful task.
consequences: There was no association between age and total MFIS score (trait stress) (s = –0.029, s = 0.873), and there was no effect of gender [F(1,31) < 1]. However, for state fatigue, advancing age was associated with less fatigue [F(1,35) = 9.19, p < 0.01, coefficient = –0.4]. In neuroimaging data, age interacts with VAS-F in the middle frontal gyrus. In younger individuals (20–32), more activation was associated with less fatigue, there was no relationship between 33–48 years of age, and for older individuals (55+) more activation was associated with more fatigue. The genus also interacts with VAS-F in several regions including the orbitofrontal, middle, and inferior gyrus. For women, more activation was associated with less fatigue while for men more activation was associated with more fatigue.
conclusion: Older individuals reported less fatigue while performing the task (condition measures). Neuroimaging data suggest that the role of the medial frontal regions changes with age: younger individuals may use these regions to combat fatigue, but this is not the case with older individuals. Moreover, these findings may indicate greater resilience in females compared to males when faced with a stressful task.