Browsing by Subject "cognitive performance"

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  • Henttonen, Pentti (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between autonomic arousal, activation and auditory change detection in musicians and non-musicians, as reflected by the mismatch negativity (MMN) component of event-related potential response and cardiovascular activity measured in heart rate. 20 musicians and 20 non-musicians were included in the study. An oddball paradigm composed of stimuli deviating in three difficulty levels from standard tone in pitch, duration and location was utilized with two conditions of passive listening, which were followed by intermittent active listening tasks. Only pitch and duration deviants were analysed. Musicians exhibited greater MMN amplitudes, shorter MMN latencies and superior behavioral performance evidenced by discrimination accuracy and reaction time. The effects were observed for both pitch and duration deviants. Musicians' resting heart rates were lower during pre-experiment and both pre-task baselines, indicating higher cardiovascular efficiency. Greater task-related heart rate acceleration in active listening was observed in the musician group than in the non-musician group. MMN amplitude to pitch deviants during passive listening tasks correlated positively with behavioral accuracy in active discrimination tasks. Faster heart rate during active listening predicted better task performance in musician group, whereas the effect was opposite in non-musician group. In musician group, higher heart rate increased the task performance more for subjects with smaller MMN amplitudes. These data thus imply that cortically measured preattentive auditory discrimination capacity is reciprocally connected to the arousal dimension of autonomic nervous system's activity and that musical expertise affects this relationship. Results add support to the evidence of musicians' superior auditory change detection capacity measured in event-related potentials and behavioral performance, while providing new insights to the role of psychophysiological arousal in sound processing and other mental tasks.
  • Rovio, Suvi P.; Pahkala, Katja; Nevalainen, Jaakko; Juonala, Markus; Salo, Pia; Kahonen, Mika; Hutri-Kahonen, Nina; Lehtimaki, Terho; Jokinen, Eero; Laitinen, Tomi; Taittonen, Leena; Tossavainen, Paivi; Viikari, Jorma S. A.; Rinne, Juha O.; Raitakari, Olli T. (2017)
    BACKGROUND In adults, high blood pressure (BP), adverse serum lipids, and smoking associate with cognitive deficits. The effects of these risk factors from childhood on midlife cognitive performance are unknown. OBJECTIVES This study sought to investigate the associations between childhood/adolescence cardiovascular risk factors and midlife cognitive performance. METHODS From 1980, a population-based cohort of 3,596 children (baseline age: 3 to 18 years) have been followed for 31 years in 3- to 9-year intervals. BP, serum lipids, body mass index, and smoking were assessed in all follow-ups. Cumulative exposure as the area under the curve for each risk factor was determined in childhood (6 to 12 years), adolescence (12 to 18 years), and young adulthood (18 to 24 years). In 2011, cognitive testing was performed in 2,026 participants aged 34 to 49 years. RESULTS High systolic BP, elevated serum total-cholesterol, and smoking from childhood were independently associated with worse midlife cognitive performance, especially memory and learning. The number of early life risk factors, including high levels (extreme 75th percentile for cumulative risk exposure between ages 6 and 24 years) of systolic BP, total-cholesterol, and smoking associated inversely with midlife visual and episodic memory and visuospatial associative learning (-0.140 standard deviations per risk factor, p <0.0001) and remained significant after adjustment for contemporaneous risk factors. Individuals with all risk factors within recommended levels between ages 6 and 24 years performed 0.29 standard deviations better (p = 0.006) on this cognitive domain than those exceeding all risk factor guidelines at least twice. This difference corresponds to the effect of 6 years aging on this cognitive domain. CONCLUSIONS Cumulative burden of cardiovascular risk factors from childhood/adolescence associate with worse midlife cognitive performance independent of adulthood exposure. (C) 2017 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation.
  • Ketvel, Laila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objective: Both stress-related exhaustion and depression have previously been associated with a decline in cognitive performance, but there is a lack of evidence on whether these conditions have different associations with different cognitive domains and whether they have additive effects on cognitive performance. Furthermore, very little is known about the cognitive effects of chronic stress-related exhaustion. Consequently, the aims of this study were to 1) examine the associations between current stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance, 2) investigate whether different developmental trajectories of stress-related exhaustion are differently associated with cognitive performance, 3) compare the association between stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance to the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive performance, 4) examine if individuals with comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression have lower cognitive performance than individuals with at most one of these conditions (i.e., whether clinical stress-related exhaustion and clinical depression might have additive effects on cognitive performance). Methods: The data used in the study was a Finnish population-based sample of six cohorts born between 1962 and 1977 from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Stress-related exhaustion was assessed using the Maastricht Questionnaire, depressive symptoms with the Beck Depression Inventory, and cognitive performance with four subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, measuring visuospatial associative learning, reaction time, sustained attention, and executive functions. Cognitive performance and depressive symptoms were assessed in 2012, and stress-related exhaustion in 2001, 2007, and 2012. Participants were 35 to 50 years old in 2012. Linear associations between stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance (N = 905) and depressive symptoms and cognitive performance (N = 904) were examined by conducting multivariate regression analyses. Age, sex, socioeconomic status, and parents’ socioeconomic status were controlled in the regression models. Additionally, multivariate analyses of variance were performed to investigate the different developmental trajectories of stress-related exhaustion and their relation to cognitive performance (N = 541) and the associations of comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression with cognitive performance (N = 1273). Results and conclusion: The main finding was that high stress-related exhaustion is associated with slower reaction times, but not with performance in spatial working memory, visuospatial associative learning, or executive functions. Ongoing, chronic stress-related exhaustion was more strongly associated with slower reaction times than short-term exhaustion experienced years ago. Compared to depressive symptoms, high stress-related exhaustion was associated with slower reaction times also when subclinical cases were included, whereas only clinical levels of depressive symptoms had an association with slower reaction times. There were no differences in cognitive performance between individuals with only stress-related exhaustion or depression and those with comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression, which supports the notion that these conditions do not have additive effects on cognitive performance. These findings add to the existing evidence of the cognitive effects of stress-related exhaustion in the general population and have several practical implications. Further research is needed on the topic, preferably with longitudinal designs, more comprehensive cognitive measures, and clinical assessment of the psychiatric symptoms.
  • Peltonen, Niina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Objectives The purpose of this thesis is to study physiological connections during emotion, and investigate whether emotional synchrony predicts cognitive performance. It is widely acknowledged emotions affect human behavior extensively, however, less is known about how different processes of emotional regulation are related. These relations can be studied by measuring emotional physiological synchrony, determined as the index value of similarities between physiological processes that are recorded while experiencing emotion. When people experience emotions, activity of bodily functions changes, and the synchrony measure is meant to reflect whether the changes vary in the same manner. Multiple different methods for determining the emotional synchrony have been suggested, yet there is no established practice. In this thesis, a new method for determining emotional physiological synchrony is presented. Also, cognitive performance is measured to understand whether synchrony has a relationship with behavioral outcomes. The research question of this thesis is: Does synchrony of emotional responses predict cognitive performance? Methods 32 subjects participated in the experiment in which three signals—electrodermal activity (EDA), electroencephalography (EEG) and facial electromyography (fEMG)—were recorded while subjects’ performed in cognitively loading and emotionally arousing tasks. Cognitive performance was measured by Visual Search and Mental Arithmetic tasks. Emotional synchrony was determined based on each subjects’ physiological activity during Mental Imagery task, in which subjects recalled their emotional memories. A new method for determining the synchrony was created, consisting of two approaches: Approach 1 for investigating the synchrony of physiological responses over time, within one emotion, and Approach 2 investigating synchrony of physiological responses between two emotions, averaged over time. Both approaches employed Kendall correlation and cosine similarity analysis. The physiological responses extracted from the signals included: skin conductance response (SCR) from EDA, frontal alpha asymmetry (FASYM) from EEG, and corrugator supercilii (CRG), zygomaticus major (ZYG) and orbicularis oculi (ORB) from fEMG. The relationship between synchrony indices and cognitive performance was explored with linear models. Results It was found that strong synchronization between facial muscles ZYG and ORB corresponded to the positiveness of emotions having greatest activation during highly arousing positive emotions: enthusiasm, joy and triumph. This synchrony was linked with increased performance in Visual Search tasks, indicating that subjects whose facial muscle activation synchronized during Mental Imagery, tended to achieve better performance scores in Visual Search.
  • Paalasmaa, Salla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Aims. Knowledge of performance in other areas of cognitive processing in children with specific language impairment is contradictory. The aim of this study was to research verbal and cognitive performance as well as intelligence of children with specific language impairment using neuropsychological evaluation data. In addition, the methods used to evaluate neuropsychological processing of the children and their school recommendations were studied. Methods. The participants (N=67) were diagnosed with F80.1 and / or F80.2 in Lastenlinna hospital in 1998-1999 and were neuropsychologically evaluated in 1996 2001. The study retrospectively examined which methods of evaluation were used to assess children with specific language impairment. The participants' test battery scores were gathered. Descriptions of spontaneity, ability to cooperate and concentrate as well as school recommendations were gathered from neuropsychologists' reports. Occurrences of and connections between variables were analyzed with descriptive statistics, graphs, t-tests, chi-square tests, one-way ANOVAs and contrasts. Results and conclusions. The methods used to neuropsychologically evaluate children with specific language impairment in Lastenlinna hospital in 1996 2001 included different versions of Wechsler intelligence scales with which verbal and non-verbal processing were analyzed. In addition, the neuropsychological evaluation was often augmented with the linguistic subtests of Nepsy and Nepsu. The participants performed worse than standard on verbal tasks, whereas in non-verbal tasks their performance was close to standard. Participants with expressive language disorder F80.1 had the verbal IQ close to normal, and only participants with receptive language disorder F80.2 had a significantly low verbal IQ. Children with specific language impairment were mostly recommended to participate in prolonged primary education, full-time special education or general education. The school recommendations were connected to verbal performance: the more severe the problems with language, the more rehabilitating education was recommended. The evaluation of children with specific language impairment should be more comprehensive so that a clearer picture of their cognitive processing and ability to function could be attained. The difference between the verbal and non-verbal performance
  • Hyvämäki, Vera (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Objective. Reform schools (RSs) in Finland are child welfare institutions for adolescents with severe conduct problems. RS adolescents have generally been studied in terms of their disadvantages while factors related to positive adulthood outcomes remain unknown. Cognitive abilities have been associated with resilience, which embodies personal qualities that enable individuals to overcome adversity. This study aimed to investigate cognitive performance and resilience among former RS residents with good adult-age outcomes, and to see whether cognitive abilities were a predictor of their resilience. Methods. The sample consisted of 30 former RS residents who had no criminal record or diagnosed mental illness. Cognitive performance was measured with WAIS-IV subtests Matrix Reasoning, Vocabulary, Coding and a measure of verbal fluency. Resilience was measured with the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Linear regression was used to identify the association between cognitive performance and resilience. Results. The participants’ cognitive performance and resilience were lower compared to general population standards. None of the cognitive measures were significantly correlated with resilience. Among all the measures, verbal fluency predicted resilience the most. Conclusions. Cognitive deficits appear to be common among the whole RS population. Future research should conduct comparisons within the RS population for more clinically relevant conclusions. The participants’ lower resilience was likely due to an unfitting comparison group. In future work, it might be fruitful to investigate the connection between resilience and skills related to executive functioning and emotional intelligence. This study raised important methodological considerations and it provides a valuable starting point for future strength-based RS studies.
  • Suokas, Frans (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    Objectives: The present study tests the hypothesis of the association of an asphyxic insult, as defined by a low perinatal Apgar score to cognitive performance on adulthood, which has not been the objective in previous studies. The study questions are whether the low Apgar score without other symptoms predisposes one to a lower educational attainment, lower speech production capabilities and other cognitive impairments in adulthood. Based on previous studies conducted on younger individuals, the hypotheses were that individuals with a low Apgar score 1) have lower educational attainment and 2) perform worse on tasks that stress speech production than controls. Additionally, it was analyzed whether the individuals with a low Apgar score have lower 3) general intelligence, 4) verbal intelligence, 5) perceptual organization, 6) attentional skills and executive functions and 7) memory functions than controls. Methods: The participants were selected from a birth cohort of 22359 deliveries during 1971–1974 that had been followed-up until the latest measurements in 2014–2016, when the participants were aged 40–45 years of age. Asphyxia group consisted of participants with an Apgar score below 7 at least two times at 1, 5, and 15 minutes after delivery without other perinatal risk conditions (N = 80). Control group consisted of participants without any perinatal risk conditions (N = 83). It was analyzed whether the asphyxia group had an increased risk for attaining maximally a secondary level education. Measures of cognition were conducted with standardized neuropsychological tests. Childhood maladaptive living environment was included in the analyses as a covariate. Logistic regression was used in the analyses of educational attainment. In the neuropsychological tests, t-tests were conducted for the unadjusted analyses and analyses of covariance for the adjusted analyses with the covariate. Results and conclusions: The individuals who had suffered asphyxia had higher likelihood to remain in the secondary level education. They performed worse on reading speed, semantic verbal fluency, semantic abstract reasoning and on a task of processing and psychomotor speed. After adjustment for the childhood living environment, their general intelligence was also lower than controls. It was confirmed that the consequences of perinatal asphyxia extend to adulthood. Based on the results, it was assumed that the temporal cortex and basal ganglia are especially sensitive to asphyxic insults. It is suggested that the individuals, who have suffered from perinatal asphyxia, will be followed-up at the onset of their studies and provided with environmental support to avoid academic underachievement.
  • Silvo, Jenni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Objectives: Low birth weight has been associated with impaired cognitive abilities especially in childhood and young adulthood. However, the role of a low Apgar score on cognitive functions remains unclear. Apoliprotein E (APOE) gene allele ε4 has been linked to older people’s cognition, but the influence of APOE alleles on cognition of children or middle-aged is not well understood. The present study investigated the effects of low birth weight (< 2000 g) and low Apgar scores (< 7) on later cognitive performance and on the stability of cognitive functions from childhood to middle age. In addition, the influence of APOE ε2 and ε4 alleles on risk group subjects’ cognitive performance was evaluated. It was hypothesized that the groups with perinatal risk factors have impaired cognitive abilities in all the domains and have lower stability within these abilities compared to controls. Low birth weight was hypothesized to contribute lower cognitive abilities more than a low Apgar score. It was also assumed that APOE ε4 allele impairs cognitive performance only at midlife, not in childhood. Methods: The subjects with low birth weight (n = 66) and/or a low Apgar score (n = 60) were selected from a birth cohort born during 1971–1974. The control subjects (n = 95) were free from perinatal risk factors. Cognitive performance was evaluated using Wechsler’s intelligence test. All the subjects completed the test at the age of 40 (n = 221) and some also at the age of 9 (n = 190). The differences between the groups were computed with the analysis of covariance, where family socioeconomic status was controlled. Differences in the stability of cognitive abilities were evaluated with repeated measures ANOVA and correlation analysis. The effect of APOE ε2 and ε4 alleles on cognitive performance was computed with t-test. Results and conclusions: The subjects with low birth weight reached lower scores in all the cognitive domains compared to controls. At midlife, there was also a trend towards lower general intelligence in individuals with a low Apgar score. The lowest stability in cognitive performance between childhood and middle-age was observed among those born with a low birth weight. However, the difference in the stability was not significant between the groups. APOE ε4 allele was related to lower ability of perceptual reasoning in childhood and middle age. According to the results, the effects of low birth weight on cognitive functions seem to extend to middle age. However, it is assumed that environmental factors have an important role in later development in people with low birth weight. Based on the results, the APOE ε4 allele might impact already on early cognitive development. In the future, it is important to examine if this initial impairment in perceptual reasoning is related to abnormal aging among those with APOE ε4 allele.