Relating Sensory, Cognitive, and Neural Factors to Older Persons' Perceptions about Happiness: An Exploratory Study.

Abstract

Despite increased rates of disease, disability, and social losses with aging, seniors consistently report higher levels of subjective well-being (SWB), a construct closely related to happiness, than younger adults. In this exploratory study, we utilized an available dataset to investigate how aspects of health commonly deteriorating with age, including sensory (i.e., vision and hearing) and cognitive status, relate to variability in self-described contributors to happiness. Community-dwelling seniors (n = 114) responded to a single-item prompt: "name things that make people happy." 1731 responses were categorized into 13 domains of SWB via structured content analysis. Sensory health and cognition were assessed by Snellen visual acuity, pure-tone audiometry, and in-person administration of the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (BTACT) battery. A subset of eligible participants (n = 57) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess resting state functional connectivity (FC) within a previously described dopaminergic network associated with reward processing. SWB response patterns were relatively stable across gender, sensory status, and cognitive performance with few exceptions. For example, hearing-impaired participants listed fewer determinants of SWB (13.59 vs. 17.16; p < 0.001) and were less likely to name things in the "special events" category. Participants with a higher proportion of responses in the "accomplishments" domain (e.g., winning, getting good grades) demonstrated increased FC between the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens, regions implicated in reward and motivated behavior. While the framework for determinants of happiness among seniors was largely stable across the factors assessed here, our findings suggest that subtle changes in this construct may be linked to sensory loss. The possibility that perceptions about determinants of happiness might relate to differences in intrinsic connectivity within reward-related brain networks also warrants further investigation.

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Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1155/2018/4930385

Publication Info

Horne, Alexandra J, Kimberly S Chiew, Jie Zhuang, Linda K George, R Alison Adcock, Guy G Potter, Eleonora M Lad, Scott W Cousins, et al. (2018). Relating Sensory, Cognitive, and Neural Factors to Older Persons' Perceptions about Happiness: An Exploratory Study. Journal of aging research, 2018. p. 4930385. 10.1155/2018/4930385 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18949.

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Scholars@Duke

Horne

Alexandra Jordan Horne

Assistant Professor of Medicine
George

Linda K. George

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor Emeritus

My research falls into three broad areas: (1) social factors and the onset, course, and outcome of mental and physical illness, (2) social factors and aging, and (3) the organization and delivery of health services. I am working on funded research projects in all three areas. I have been the principal and co-principal investigator of two major epidemiologic studies. The first examines social factors and mental illness throughout adulthood. The second focuses on social factors related to both physical and mental health among older adults. I also am director of the one core of the Clinical Research Center for the study of depression in later life, funded by NIMH. The focus of my CRC project is the effects of social factors on the course of outcome of geriatric depression. In all of these studies, tje social factors examined include age, gender, race, urban vs rural residence, socioeconomic status, social stress, and social relationships. The major health services project in which I am involved is a randomized trial of outpatient commitment. This study is evaluating the extent to which outpatient commitment can increase the odds that the chronically mentally ill will be able to live in the community rather than being subjected to frequent involuntary commitments to state mental hospitals. The importance of this project is its potential to demonstrate that outpatient commitment is a less coercive and less expensive form of treatment for the chronically mentally that also improves their quality of life.

Adcock

Rachel Alison Adcock

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Adcock received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Emory University and her MD and PhD in Neurobiology from Yale University.  She completed her psychiatry residency training at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at UC-San Francisco and did neurosciences research as a postdoctoral fellow at UC-SF, the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and Stanford before joining the Duke faculty in 2007. Her work has been funded by NIDA, NIMH, NSF and Alfred P. Sloan and Klingenstein Fellowships in the Neurosciences, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and honored by NARSAD awards, the 2012 National Academy of Sciences Seymour Benzer Lectureship, and the 2015 ABAI BF Skinner Lectureship. The overall goals of her research program are to understand how brain systems for motivation support learning and to use mechanistic understanding of how behavior changes biology to meet the challenge of developing new therapies appropriate for early interventions for mental illness.

Potter

Guy Glenn Potter

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Cousins

Scott William Cousins

Robert Machemer, M.D. Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology

Scott W. Cousins, M.D. is currently the Robert Machemer, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology and Immunology, Vice Chair for Research, and Director of the Duke Center for Macular Diseases at Duke Eye Center. As Vice Chair, he oversees all basic science research as well as the Ophthalmology Site-Based Research Group, which administrates clinical research for Duke Eye Center. Dr. Cousins is also Medical Director of Hospital-Based Imaging and Procedures for Duke Eye Center.

Dr. Cousins is a retina-trained ophthalmologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of macular diseases, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vascular diseases. Dr. Cousins is active in both clinical and laboratory research. In his clinical practice, Dr. Cousins is involved in many trials and innovative therapies for the treatment of macular diseases, especially AMD and diabetic retinopathy. He has served as site PI for numerous phase1-3 clinical trials in AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal disorders. He has served as a consultant or member of data safety monitoring committees (DSMC) for numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology startup companies.

In his scientific laboratory, Dr. Cousins pursues both NIH-funded and industry-funded research in various areas of dry and wet AMD. In particular, he is studying the role of circulating bone marrow-derived progenitors (stem cells) in contributing to wet AMD. His laboratory is attempting to develop treatments for dry macular degeneration and improving vision in eyes with wet macular degeneration. His program is also developing blood tests and new imaging technologies for the identification of patients who are at high risk for progressing into complications.

Dr. Cousins has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and other publications addressing topics of research or clinical care of retinal disease, especially AMD. In 2006, Dr. Cousins was awarded the prestigious Alcon Research Foundation Clinician Scientist Award. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health invited Dr. Cousins to join the National Advisory Eye Council. Dr. Cousins is also a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Retina Society, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Medical Association.

In 2010, Dr. Cousins was named one of the “Top 34 Ophthalmologists in the United States” by Becker’s ASC Review, a leading source of business and legal news for ambulatory surgery centers. They cited his leadership of the Duke Center for Macular Diseases and his ongoing research in macular degeneration as reasons for the honor.


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