Effects of age on the interactions of attentional and emotional processes: A prefrontal fNIRS study

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Abstract

The aging of attentional and emotional functions has been extensively studied but relatively independently. Therefore, the relationships between aging and the interactions of attentional and emotional processes remain elusive. This study aimed to determine how age affected the interactions between attentional and emotional processes during adulthood. One-hundred forty adults aged 18–79 performed the emotional variant of the Attention Network Test, which probed alerting, orienting, and executive control in the presence and absence of threatening faces. During this task, contexts with varying levels of task preparatory processes were created to modulate the effect of threatening faces on attention, and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was used to examine the neural underpinnings of the behavioural effects. The behavioural results showed that aging was associated with a significant decline in alerting efficiency, and there was a statistical trend for age-related deficits in executive control. Despite these age differences, age did not significantly moderate the interactions among attentional networks or between attention and emotion. Additionally, the fNIRS results showed that decreased frontal cortex functioning might underlie the age-related decline in executive control. Therefore, while aging has varying effects on different attentional networks, the interactions of attentional and emotional processes remain relatively unaffected by age. Copyright © 2024 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition and Emotion
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

Citation

Yeung, M. K. (2024). Effects of age on the interactions of attentional and emotional processes: A prefrontal fNIRS study. Cognition and Emotion. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2024.2311799

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Emotion
  • Aging
  • Frontal cortex
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy

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