Summary: Age and gender appear to affect the relationship between state fatigue and brain activation.
Source: Kessler Foundation
To study the relationship between age and fatigue, researchers at the Kessler Foundation conducted a new study using neuroimaging and self-report data.
Their findings were published online on May 9, 2022 Frontiers in human neuroscience.
The authors are Glenn Wylie, DPhil, Amanda Pra Sisto, Helen M. Genova, Ph.D. and John DeLuca, Ph.D., of the Kessler Foundation. All hold faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Wylie is also a research scientist at the Center for the Study of War-Related Diseases and Injuries at the New Jersey Department of Veterans Affairs Health System.
Their study is the first to report gender and age effects on both “state” and “trait” fatigue, and the first to report fatigue-related differences in brain activation across life and across gender during a cognitively tiring task.
The “state” measure of fatigue assesses a subject’s instantaneous experience of fatigue at the time of the test; The “trait” measure of fatigue assesses how much fatigue a subject has experienced over a longer period of time, such as the previous four weeks.
The researchers collected data on trait fatigue and state fatigue from 43 healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 63. State fatigue was measured during fMRI scans while participants performed a cognitively challenging task.
The study was conducted at the Kessler Foundation’s Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center, a specialized facility dedicated exclusively to rehabilitation research. They found that older people reported less state fatigue.
Dr Wylie, director of the Ortenzio Centre, commented: “Our neuroimaging data show that the role of the mid-frontal areas of the brain changes with age. Younger people can use these areas to combat fatigue, but this this is not the case for older people. Furthermore, these results suggest that women show greater resilience when faced with a tiring task.”
“This study is an important first step in explaining some of the differences reported in the fatigue literature, demonstrating that state and trait measures of fatigue measure different aspects of fatigue, and that age and “Gender appears to affect the relationship between state fatigue and brain activation,” concluded Dr. Wyle.
About this fatigue research news
Author: Press Office
Source: Kessler Foundation
Contact: Press Office – Kessler Foundation
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Open access
“Lifespan Fatigue in Men and Women: State vs. Trait” by Glenn R. Wylie et al. Frontiers in human neuroscience
Lifetime fatigue in men and women: status vs
Goal: Fatigue is thought to worsen with age, but the literature is mixed: some studies show that older people experience more fatigue, 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 the instruments used to study fatigue, as the correlation between state (at the moment) and trait ( over an extended period of time) measures of fatigue have been shown to be weak. The aim of the current study was to examine both state and trait fatigue 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 state fatigue using the visual analog scale of fatigue (VAS-F) during a fatiguing task.
Results: There was no correlation between age and MFIS total score (shot fatigue) (r = –0.029, p = 0.873), nor was there a gender effect [F(1,31) < 1]. However, for state fatigue, increasing age was associated with less fatigue [F(1,35) = 9.19, p < 0.01, coefficient = –0.4]. In the neuroimaging data, age interacted with VAS-F in the middle frontal gyrus. In younger individuals (20-32), more activation was associated with less fatigue, for people aged 33-48 there was no relationship, and for older people (55+) more activation was associated with more fatigue. Gender also interacted with VAS-F in several areas, including the orbital, middle, and inferior frontal gyrus. For women, more activation was associated with less fatigue, while for men, more activation was associated with more fatigue.
Conclusion: Older adults reported less fatigue during task performance (state measures). Neuroimaging data indicate that the role of the medial frontal areas changes with age: younger individuals can use these areas to combat fatigue, but this is not the case in older people. Furthermore, these results may suggest greater resilience in women than in men when faced with a tiring task.
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