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Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8945-521X

Document Type

Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Rebecca E. Ready

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology

Abstract

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) report greater rates of psychiatric symptoms than cognitively-intact older persons. This may be associated with emotion dysregulation, which is prevalent in cognitively-impaired populations. No research to date has investigated responses to emotionally-provocative stimuli in persons with MCI. Aim 1 of this study determined differences in emotional reactivity to and recovery from negative mood induction in older persons with amnestic MCI (aMCI) and cognitively-healthy older adults. Moreover, emotion dysfunction in MCI may be linked to impairment in executive function (EF), a common feature of MCI. Theoretical models postulate that EF is essential to the active regulation of emotions. Aim 2 of this study determined associations between EF and emotion outcomes. Twenty older adults with aMCI and 25 cognitively-intact older adults watched a video depicting interpersonal loss to induce negative mood. Self-reported emotions were assessed prior to and immediately after the video, and after 3- and 6-minute recovery periods. Participants completed neuropsychological and behavioral measures of EF. Persons with aMCI and cognitively-intact older participants did not significantly differ in sadness or pleasantness reactivity to and recovery from the negative film clip. An association between poorer performance on an EF measure of behavioral inhibition and greater sadness reactivity was significantly stronger for individuals with aMCI compared to cognitively-intact older adults. Results lend support to theoretical models of EF and emotion regulatory abilities, and – with replication – may lead to better psychosocial interventions for persons with MCI who experience psychological distress.

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