Auditory perception of temporal order in centenarians in comparison with young and elderly subjects
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Temporal information processing controls many aspects of human mental activity and may be assessed by examining perception of temporal order in the tens of milliseconds time range. Although existing studies suggest an age-related decline in mental abilities, the data on the deterioration of temporal order perception seems inconsistent. Moreover, any evidence on subjects aged over 70 years is lacking. The present experiment aimed to extend the existing data to extremely old people. Temporal order judgment (TOJ) for auditory stimuli was tested across the life span of approx. 80 years, i.e. in young (mean age 22 years), elderly (66 years) and very old (101 years) subjects. Age-related deterioration of performance was observed, with slight changes in elderly subjects and significant deterioration in centenarians which was more distinct in women than in men. The results confirm age-related decrease in temporal resolution which may be explained by slowing of information processing or of a hypothetical internal-timing mechanism. These effects may be influenced by different strategies used in particular age groups.
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Iwona Kolodziejczyk, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland