Neuroimaging reveals differences related to fatigue by age and gender

Summary: Age and gender appear to influence the relationship between state fatigue and brain activation.

Source: Kessler Foundation

To investigate the relationship between age and fatigue, researchers at the Kessler Foundation conducted a cutting-edge study using neuroimaging and self-report data.

Their findings were posted online on May 9, 2022 Limits of human neuroscience.

The authors are Glenn Wylie, DPhil, Amanda Pra Sisto, Dr. Helen M. Genova, and Dr. John DeLuca of the Kessler Foundation. They all have faculty meetings at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Wylie is also a Research Scientist at the Injury and Disease Research Center of the New Jersey Healthcare System’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

Their study is the first to describe the effects of gender and age on fatigue in both “state” and “trait” and the first to describe fatigue-related differences in brain activation throughout life and by gender during a strenuous task cognitively.

“State” a fatigue measure assesses the subject’s instantaneous fatigue experience during the test; ‘Trait’ The fatigue measure measures how much fatigue the subject experienced over an extended period of time, for example in the previous four weeks.

Researchers collected data on trait fatigue and condition 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.

This shows a tired man
Their study is the first to describe the effects of gender and age on fatigue in both “state” and “trait” and the first to describe fatigue-related differences in brain activation throughout life and by gender during a strenuous task cognitively. The image is in the public domain

The study was conducted at the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at the Kessler Foundation, a specialized facility dedicated solely to rehabilitation research. They found that older adults reported less fatigue with the condition.

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 people can use these areas to combat fatigue, but this is not the case for older people. Moreover, these results suggest that women are more resilient when faced with a strenuous task. ‘

“This study is an important first step towards clarifying some of the differences reported in the fatigue literature, showing that measures of condition and features of fatigue measure different aspects of fatigue, and that age and gender appear to influence the relationship between fatigue and brain activation,” concluded Dr. Wyle .

About this news from the fatigue research

Author: Press office
Source: Kessler Foundation
Contact: Press Office – Kessler Foundation
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original research: Open Access.
“Lifelong Fatigue in Men and Women: a State versus a Trait” by Glenn R. Wylie et al. Limits of human neuroscience

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Abstract

Lifelong fatigue in men and women: a condition versus a trait

Objective: It is commonly believed that fatigue increases with age, but the literature is mixed: some studies show that older people feel more tired, others indicate the opposite. Some inconsistencies in the literature may be related to gender differences in fatigue, while others may be due to differences in the tools used to test fatigue, since the correlation between the state (at time) and the trait (over a longer period) of measures Fatigue has been shown to be weak. The aim of this study was to investigate both condition and trait fatigue by age and gender using neuroimaging data and self-report.

Methods: We examined the effects of age and gender in 43 healthy subjects on self-reported fatigue using the Modified Fatigue Effect Scale (MFIS), which is a measure of trait fatigue. We also performed fMRI scans on these subjects and collected self-reported fatigue measurements using a visual analogue Fatigue Scale (VAS-F) during a strenuous task.

Results: There was no correlation between age and total MFIS score (trait fatigue) (r = –0.029, p = 0.873), and there was no gender effect [F(1,31) < 1]. However, in the case of fatigue in the condition, age was associated with less fatigue [F(1,35) = 9.19, p < 0.01, coefficient = –0.4]. Age interacted with VAS-F in the middle frontal gyrus in neuroimaging data. In younger subjects (20–32), greater activation was associated with less fatigue, in subjects aged 33–48 years there was no relationship, and in older subjects (55+), greater activation was associated with greater fatigue. Gender interacted with VAS-F in several areas, including the orbital gyrus, middle and inferior frontal gyruses. For women, greater activation was associated with less fatigue, while for men, greater activation was associated with greater fatigue.

Application: Older people reported less fatigue while performing the task (state measures). Neuroimaging data show that the role of the middle frontal areas changes with age: younger people can use these areas to combat fatigue, but this is not the case for older people. Moreover, these results may suggest that women are more resilient than men in the face of a strenuous task.

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