Abstract

Objective: Previous research has shown age-related decline in functioning, but little is known regarding the effect of age on purported parietal lobe abilities. Therefore, we looked at the performance of people aged 50 to 79 on a number of tests purported to assess different areas of the brain. In particular we were interested in how the performances of right posterior tasks compare to that of left frontal (executive) tasks as one gets older. Executive tasks tend to be more fluid, and should deteriorate with age, the (right parietal) gestaltic functioning tasks, being more crystalline, should not. Method: A series of frontal (Trail Making Tests A and B, Trails C, Letter Naming Test) and parietal (Street Completion Test and Gestalt Closure Test) neuropsychological tests was administered to 124 normal healthy participants aged 50 to 79. Results: Parietal (gestaltic) functioning holds through the 60s. The Street Completion Test showed minimal decline over the ages. The Gestalt Closure task, however, showed significant decline in the 70s. Executive functioning shows a continuous decline as assessed though the Trailmaking B, but Trails C showed no significant decline until the 70s. Letter Naming, unlike other executive tasks, showed little decline across the ages, though scores in the 70s were worse than those in the 50s. Conclusion(s): These hypotheses were only partially supported. The parietal data yielded mixed results, with the Street proving to be a “hold” task. The frontal data supported a decline (“no hold”), especially as one reaches their 70s.