Previous research has uncovered age-related differences in emotion perception. To date, studies have relied heavily on forced-choice methods that stipulate possible responses. These constrained methods limit discovery of variation in emotion perception, which may be due to subtle differences in underlying concepts for emotion.
We employed a face sort paradigm in which young (N = 42) and older adult (N = 43) participants were given 120 photographs portraying six target emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and neutral) and were instructed to create and label piles, such that individuals in each pile were feeling the same way.
There were no age differences in number of piles created, nor in how well labels mapped onto the target emotion categories. However, older adults demonstrated lower consistency in sorting, such that fewer photographs in a given pile belonged to the same target emotion category. At the same time, older adults labeled piles using emotion words that were acquired later in development, and thus are considered more semantically complex.
These findings partially support the hypothesis that older adults’ concepts for emotions and emotional expressions are more complex than those of young adults, demonstrate the utility of incorporating less constrained experimental methods into the investigation of age-related differences in emotion perception, and are consistent with existing evidence of increased cognitive and emotional complexity in adulthood.
Previous research suggests declines in emotion perception in older as compared to younger adults, but the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we address this by investigating how “face-age” and “face emotion intensity” affect both younger and older participants’ behavioural and neural responses using event-related potentials (ERPs). Sixteen young and fifteen older adults viewed and judged the emotion type of facial images with old or young face-age and with high- or low- emotion intensities while EEG was recorded. The ERP results revealed that young and older participants exhibited significant ERP differences in two neural clusters: the left frontal and centromedial regions (100–200 ms stimulus onset) and frontal region (250–900 ms) when perceiving neutral faces. Older participants also exhibited significantly higher ERPs within these two neural clusters during anger and happiness emotion perceptual tasks. However, while this pattern of activity supported neutral emotion processing, it was not sufficient to support the effective processing of facial expressions of anger and happiness as older adults showed reductions in performance when perceiving these emotions. These age-related changes are consistent with theoretical models of age-related changes in neurocognitive abilities and may reflect a general age-related cognitive neural compensation in older adults, rather than a specific emotion-processing neural compensation.
Older adults (OA) are worse than young adults (YA) at recognizing emotional facial expressions (Ruffman, Henry, Livingstone, & Phillips, 2008). In particular, age differences in anger recognition remain even when other emotions improve via additional context (e.g., Richter, Dietzel, & Kunzmann, 2011; Stanley & Isaacowitz, 2015). We investigated whether job experiences with greater social components would relate to better anger recognition and interpersonal perception in OA. We expected OA who held jobs with more social requirements would be better at anger recognition and interpersonal perception, but that this would differ by gender. OA (N=194) reported their present job and completed an emotion perception task and the Interpersonal Perception Task-15 (IPT-15; Costanzo & Archer, 1989). Ratings from the O*Net database were used to determine the degree of social requirements (0-100) for reported jobs. For older females, more social experience in their present job was related to better anger recognition (r =.45,p=.014). More face-to-face experience in the job held the longest was related to better overall emotion perception in older females (r=.20,p=.047). For older males, more social experience in their present job was related to worse anger recognition (r=-.45, p=.029). More coordination and leadership experience in the job held the longest was related to better interpersonal perception in older males (r =.28, p=.010). These results suggest gender is important when examining the degree to which social experience in the workplace relates to social judgments. Future work should investigate whether gender differences in subordinate vs leadership roles can account for these findings.
Declining gustatory function, nutrition, and oral health are important elements of health in older adults that can affect the aging process. The aim of the present work was to investigate the effect of age and oral status on taste discrimination in two different groups of elderly subjects living either in an Italian residential institution (TG) or in the community (CG). A total of 90 subjects were enrolled in the study (58 CG vs. 32 TG). Masticatory performance (MP) was assessed using the two-color mixing ability test. Taste function was evaluated using cotton pads soaked with six taste stimuli (salty, acid, sweet, bitter, fat and water). A positive correlation between age and missing teeth (r = 0.51, C.I. [0.33; 0.65], p < 0.0001), and a negative correlation between age and MP (r = −0.39, C.I. [−0.56; −0.20], p < 0.001) were found. Moreover, significant differences for salty taste, between TG and CG were detected (p < 0.05). Significant differences in bitter taste sensitivity between subjects wearing removable and non-removable prosthesis were also determined (p < 0.05). In addition, significant gender differences and between males in TG and CG were identified (p < 0.05). The best understanding of the relationship between MP, taste sensitivity, and nutritional factors is a necessary criterion for the development of new therapeutic strategies to address more effectively the problems associated with malnutrition in elderly subjects.
Older adults tend to have lower emotion-perception accuracy compared to younger adults. Previous studies have centered on individual characteristics, including cognitive decline and positive attentional preferences, as possible mechanisms underlying these age differences in emotion perception; however, thus far, no perceiver-focused factor has accounted for the age differences. The present study focuses on perceived social-context factors and uses the Social Input Model as the framework for investigating the relation between the expressivity of the social environment and emotion-perception accuracy in younger and older adults. Younger ( n = 32) and older adults ( n = 29) reported on the make-up of their social circles and the expressivity of their three closest social partners and then completed a static facial emotion-perception task. Older adults reported greater positive and negative expressivity in their social partners compared to younger adults. Moreover, older adults were marginally less accurate than younger adults when perceiving emotions. Positive expressivity of the social partners predicted lower emotion-perception accuracy in younger but not older adults. Our findings mark the first step to identifying possible characteristics of the social environment that may contribute to the age difference in emotion-perception accuracy.
Cognitive control constrains retrieval processing and so restricts what comes to mind as input to the attribution system. We review evidence that older adults, patients with Alzheimer's disease, and people with traumatic brain injury exert less cognitive control during retrieval, and so are susceptible to memory misattributions in the form of dramatic levels of false remembering.
PurposeThe aim of this study was to determine the impact of cognitive load imposed by a speech production task on the speech motor performance of healthy older and younger adults. Response inhibition, selective attention, and working memory were the primary cognitive processes of interest.MethodTwelve healthy older and 12 healthy younger adults produced multiple repetitions of 4 sentences containing an embedded Stroop task in 2 cognitive load conditions: congruent and incongruent. The incongruent condition, which required participants to suppress orthographic information to say the font colors in which color words were written, represented an increase in cognitive load relative to the congruent condition in which word text and font color matched. Kinematic measures of articulatory coordination variability and movement duration as well as a behavioral measure of sentence production accuracy were compared between groups and conditions and across 3 sentence segments (pre-, during-, and post-Stroop).ResultsIncreased cognitive load in the incongruent condition was associated with increased articulatory coordination variability and movement duration, compared to the congruent Stroop condition, for both age groups. Overall, the effect of increased cognitive load was greater for older adults than younger adults and was greatest in the portion of the sentence in which cognitive load was manipulated (during-Stroop), followed by the pre-Stroop segment. Sentence production accuracy was reduced for older adults in the incongruent condition.ConclusionsIncreased cognitive load involving response inhibition, selective attention, and working memory processes within a speech production task disrupted both the stability and timing with which speech was produced by both age groups. Older adults' speech motor performance may have been more affected due to age-related changes in cognitive and motoric functions that result in altered motor cognition.