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Aging-mediated neuromuscular instability and delayed choice reaction time

Nitin Ashok John, Kuppusamy Saranya, Yerrabeli Dhanalakshmi, Jyoti John.


Background: Normal aging phenomenon is associated with cognitive decline, without any associated pathologies, over the lifespan of an adult. The fluid abilities; attention, processing speed, and executive functions are notably affected, which can hamper the everyday life. Reaction time (RT) test assesses all these abilities. Physical activity has been postulated to have a beneficial effect in the prevention of cognitive decline with aging.

Objective: To study the effect of aging on the choice auditory and visual RT in healthy adults and in those performing aerobic exercise.

Materials and Methods: The present cross-sectional study was carried out in the Physiology Department, IGMC, Nagpur. Twenty healthy adults and 20 aerobic exercisers were recruited in 3 groups of different age groups; Group 1: 31–40 years, Group 2: 41–50 years, and Group 3: 51–60 years—each group comprising 20 individuals. RT both with low- and high-frequency sound and with red, green, and indigo color was assessed. Statistical analysis was done using One-way ANOVA. Post-hoc analysis was done by Tukey–Krammer test. Statistical value of p < 0.05 was considered as significant.

Results: Auditory RT was significantly delayed in healthy controls with progressing age. In aerobic exercisers also RT was delayed, but less significant than controls. Visual RT was significantly prolonged in healthy individuals with progressing age. Aerobic exercisers had similar findings for red and green color, but less significant than controls. In aerobic exercisers, the RT for indigo color was statistically insignificant among the groups.

Conclusion: Auditory and visual RT gets delayed even with normal aging and aerobic exercise appears to have a protective role in delaying the cognitive decline.

Key words: Aging, cognition, auditory, visual, reaction time, exercise

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