Neuroimaging study reveals differences related to fatigue by age and sex

Summary: Both age and gender seem to affect the relationship between the state of fatigue and brain activation.

Font: Kessler Foundation

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

Their findings were published online on May 9, 2022, at 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 have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine. Dr. Wylie is also a research scientist at the Center for the Study of War-Related Injuries and Illnesses at the Department of Veterans Affairs at the New Jersey Health System.

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

The “state” fatigue measure assesses a subject’s instantaneous experience of fatigue at the time of testing; The fatigue “trait” measure assesses how much fatigue a subject 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.

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

The study was conducted at the Kessler Foundation’s Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center, a specialized center dedicated exclusively to rehabilitation research. They found that older people reported less state fatigue.

Dr Wylie, Director of the Ortenzio Center, commented: “Our neuroimaging data show that the role of the middle frontal areas of the brain changes with age. Younger people can use these areas to combat fatigue, but this is not the case for older people. Furthermore, these results suggest that women show greater resilience when faced with a strenuous task.”

“This study is an important first step in explaining some of the differences reported in the fatigue literature, by showing that state and trait measures of fatigue measure different aspects of fatigue, and that age and gender appear to affect fatigue. the relationship between the state of fatigue and brain activation”, concluded Dr. Wyle.

About this fatigue research news

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

original research: Open access.
“Lifetime Fatigue in Men and Women: State versus Trait” by Glenn R. Wylie et al. Frontiers in human neuroscience

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Summary

Fatigue throughout life in men and women: state versus trait

Objective: Fatigue is commonly 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, since the correlation between measures of state (at the time) and trait (during a prolonged period) of fatigue has been shown to be weak. The purpose 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 characteristic fatigue. We also performed fMRI scans on these individuals and collected self-reported measures of state fatigue using the visual analog scale for fatigue (VAS-F) during a strenuous task.

Results: There was no correlation between age and MFIS (trait fatigue) total score (r = –0.029, p = 0.873), there was also no effect of gender [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 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 individuals aged 33-48 there was no relationship, and for older individuals (55+) more activation was associated with more fatigue. The genus also interacted with VAS-F in several areas, including the orbital, middle, and inferior frontal gyri. For women, more activation was associated with less fatigue, while for men, more activation was associated with more fatigue.

Conclusion: Older people reported less fatigue during task performance (state measures). Neuroimaging data indicate that the role of the midfrontal areas changes with age: younger people may use these areas to combat fatigue, but this is not the case for older people. Furthermore, these results may suggest greater resilience in women than in men when faced with a strenuous task.

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