Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event, or something with an uncertain outcome. As an individual gets older, anxiety can worsen, resulting in detrimental effects upon their overall quality of life. Anxiety may also detrimentally affect the amount and quality of sleep a person can have, leading to poor memory consolidation; this may worsen as an individual ages, and decline even more so in relation to a diagnosis of dementia.

There is some evidence to suggest also that Anxiety may play a significant role in detrimentally affecting cognitive inhibition. In spite of such evidence, anxiety has received relatively little investigation in the context of the integrity of information processing, especially in terms of either memory or cognition and inhibitory function, in ageing and dementia.

What are the main aims of the study?

anxietyThis study is designed to examine the potential relationship between anxiety and the ability and speed at which we are able to pay attention in our surroundings, how well we can perform cognitive inhibition, how we process emotions, and how a person’s sleep quality is affected as a result. To investigate this, we use simple tasks displayed on computers and iPads to assess the effect of anxiety levels on the perceptual processes involved in the visual attention, information processing speed, working memory and related cognitive inhibition.

What does it involve for a participant?

Participants will be invited to perform certain tasks and to complete questionnaires in order to determine, for research purposes, their level of anxiety in relation to their performance on a range of computer/iPad-based tests of information processing/reaction time speed, attention and inhibition. These participants will also be invited to perform a battery of behavioural and cognitive tests and to answer a variety of demographic questions related to factors such as age and gender.

What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

The main goal of this study is to identify and to increase our knowledge about how anxiety may affect ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. This will allow us to improve our understanding of anxiety in both young and older adults and people living with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, specifically, whether anxiety can detrimentally influence various aspects of information processing in these groups, and any interactions between the factors such as anxiety and sleep. The results of this study will be published in journals that report on this type of research and a major aim is to inform further research that will result in the better investigation and treatment of anxiety in older adults.

Where is the study based?

The study is based at the Department of Psychology of Swansea University.

Who can take part? (Eligibility criteria)

We are looking for volunteers aged between 65 and 80 years, who have been recently (approximately within the last 12 months) diagnosed with the early or mild stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers need to be in good physical health, and be physically able to use a computer and to perform the tasks (some of which use a pen and paper). Unfortunately, we will not be able to take volunteers who have any reported history of serious head injuries, serious visual impairments or any condition which may be affected by flashing images on a screen.

How long is the study for? / Is it a one-off visit?

The study will consist in one visit, and should take no longer than 90 minutes, including breaks between tests. Participants will receive reimbursement for their travel expenses. In addition, participants will be provided with lunch and with refreshments.

anxietyYou can see if you are eligible for this study or others around the nation by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.

Not registered with Join Dementia Research? Why not sign up today?