A comparison of performance on measures of executive function and metacognition in normal aging and Parkinson's disease




Hopp, Grace Annette

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This study was designed to inform theoretical and clinical understanding of the relation between executive function and metacognition in late adulthood, and to examine the effects of Parkinson's Disease (PD) on these aspects of the executive control system. The sample included two groups of neurologically intact (NI) participants and one group of participants with PD. All participants were over the age of 55 years and screened for dementia and depression. The NI young-old group included 22 participants between the ages of 56 and 74 years of age. A second group of 20 participants, between the ages of 75 and 90 years formed the NI old-old sample. The third group included 20 nondemented participants between the ages of 55 and 84 years with a diagnosis of PD. First on measures of executive function, memory, and motor performance significant age-related differences were limited. Tasks measuring the ability to generate novel concepts and to execute target motor movements revealed a significantly lower level of performance for the NI old-old participants, relative to their younger counterparts. While age-related differences in performance did not reach significance on the remaining tasks, the mean scores for the NI young-old group were slightly higher. The participants with PD had a lower level of performance than the NI groups in all three measured areas of functioning. Second, the three measures of metacognition, performance predictions, postdictions, and data each yielded distinctive results. The accuracy of predictions was largely resilient to the effects of aging. However, the prediction accuracy of the PD participants was lower on measures of memory and gross motor performance. Groups were equivalent on measures of postdiction accuracy across measures, with the exception of the handwriting task where the NI groups showed a higher level of accuracy than the PD group. Perceptions of daily memory functioning were similar for the three groups. However, the participants with PD reported more motor problems than those reported by the NI groups. Third, the results confirmed the theoretical relation between executive functioning and metacognition in the areas of memory and fine motor control, but executive function was found to have little impact on a more routine gross motor task. The relation between executive function and metacognition appears to be domain-specific, with a stronger association on cognitively-laden tasks relative to tasks of a more routine nature.



Metacognition, Cognition, Parkinson's disease