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Neuroimaging study reveals age- and gender-related differences in fatigue

To investigate the relationship between age and fatigue, researchers at the Kessler Foundation conducted a new study using neuroimaging and self-report data. Their findings were published online May 9, 2022 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience .

By Glenn Wylie, DPhil, Amanda Pra Sisto, Helen M. Genova, Ph.D. and John DeLuca, Ph.D. of the Kessler Foundation. All teach at Rutgers Medical School of New Jersey. Dr. Wylie is also a research scientist at the New Jersey Healthcare System Veterans Affairs Center for War-Related Injuries and Illness Research.

Their study is the first to report the effect of gender and age on ‘state’ and ‘characteristic’ fatigue, and the first to report brain activation during cognitive fatigue tasks Fatigue-related differences across the lifespan and across genders. The “state” measure of fatigue assesses the subject’s instantaneous experience of fatigue at the time of the test; the “signature” measure of fatigue assesses how much fatigue the subject experiences over an extended period of time, such as the first four weeks.

Researchers collected data on characteristic fatigue and state fatigue from 43 healthy men and women aged 20 to 63. State fatigue was measured during fMRI scans as participants performed cognitively challenging tasks. The research was conducted at the Kessler Foundation’s Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center, a specialized facility specializing in rehabilitation research. They found that older adults reported less state fatigue.

PhD. Wylie, director of the Ortenzio Center, commented: “Our neuroimaging data show that the role of frontal regions in the brain changes with age. Young people may use these regions to combat fatigue, but this is not the case in older adults. Furthermore, these results suggest that women show greater resilience when faced with tiring tasks.”

“This study explains some of the differences reported in the fatigue literature. An important first step, measuring different aspects of fatigue by showing state and characteristic measures of fatigue, and that both age and gender appear to influence the relationship between state fatigue and brain activation,” concluded Dr. Wyle.

Further information: Glenn R. Wylie et al, Lifetime Fatigue in Men and Women: States and Traits, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.790006

Courtesy of the Kessler Foundation

Citation : Neuroimaging Study Reveals Age and Gender Differences Associated with Fatigue (August 5, 2022), Aug 23, 2022 Retrieved from

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