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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE EFFECTS OF STRAWBERRIES ON COGNITION AND NEURONAL COMMUNICATION IN AGING: MECHANISTIC CONSIDERATIONS

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Human cognition and mobility in aging: a model for berry fruit interventions

Authors
item Miller, Marshall G. -
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 21, 2012
Publication Date: October 13, 2012
Citation: Miller, M., Shukitt Hale, B. 2012. Human cognition and mobility in aging: a model for berry fruit interventions [abstract]. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings. Paper No. 865:03.

Technical Abstract: Changes in motor function in aging, in both animals and humans, include decrements in balance, strength, and coordination, even in the absence of specific movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. In humans, these alterations can increase fall risk, often leading to injury and premature nursing home admissions. Parallel to alterations in motor function, changes in cognitive function in aging include decrements in learning, memory, and spatial cognition, even in the absence of specific neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. In humans, these alterations can lead to decreased productivity, independence, and quality of life. In the present study, men and women between the ages of 21 and 75 years were recruited to investigate parallel declines in cognition and mobility. Balance and gait were measured using a treadmill instrumented with an array of high-density pressure sensors. Balance was assessed during both eyes-open and -closed conditions. Gait was assessed at both 1.5 mph and preferred walking speeds. Spatial learning and working memory were measured using a virtual version of the Morris water maze (vMWM) task and executive function was measured using the trail-making test (TMT). Results show that increased age was associated with increased postural sway during quiet standing and declines in preferred walking speed. Increased age was also associated with declines in spatial navigation ability, characterized by increasing acquisition latencies and impaired probe trial performance in the vMWM. Similarly, increased age was associated with declines in psychomotor speed and executive function as measured by the TMT. Dietary interventions with berry fruit are able to rescue cognitive and motor performance in animal models; the test battery employed in the present study may therefore present a useful model for assessing the effect of dietary interventions in older adults.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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