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Sensory-specific impairment among older people: An investigation using both sensory thresholds and subjective measures across the five senses
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. TU Dresden, Germany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
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Number of Authors: 62018 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 13, no 8, article id e0202969Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Age-related sensory impairment is a slow and gradual progress, which affects multiple modalities. Two contradictory hypotheses exist about the age-related decline of sensory thresholds. The common factor theory assumes one underlying factor-which accounts for the loss of several sensory modalities simultaneously-and the specific factor theory predicts that the sensory decline is uncorrelated between different modalities. In this study, we aimed to explore whether (i) there is a common factor of sensory thresholds in older people, (ii) older people assume that sensory decline in one modality also affects other modalities, (iii) there is a relation between sensory threshold and the subjective assessment of sensory function. This was accomplished by collecting both threshold measures and self-reported ratings for smell, hearing, taste, vision, and touch function in a group of 104 older people (mean age: 67.2 years; SD: 9.85; range: 50-100 years). Results indicated that there was no common factor of sensory thresholds, hence an impairment in one modality did not necessarily imply a shortfall in other modalities. In contrast, our results suggested one or two common factor(s) for the participants' ratings. Participants who reported a diminished function in one sense tended to generalize this rating to the other senses as well. The correspondence between subjective ratings and sensory thresholds was relatively good for vision and audition, although no correlations were observed for the other domains. These findings have implications for clinicians, suggesting that subjective measures should be combined with sensory threshold measurements when evaluating sensory dysfunction. Also, these data convey a positive message for older people and their physicians by showing that loss in one sensory modality does not necessarily generalize to losses across all sensory modalities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 13, no 8, article id e0202969
Keywords [en]
age, sensory impairment
National Category
Other Natural Sciences Gerontology, specialising in Medical and Health Sciences Geriatrics Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161138DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202969ISI: 000442804200039PubMedID: 30148857OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161138DiVA, id: diva2:1256940
Available from: 2018-10-18 Created: 2018-10-18 Last updated: 2019-01-20Bibliographically approved

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