. Environmental adaptations improve everyday action performance in Alzheimer's disease: empirical support from performance-based assessment. Neuropsychology. 2007 Jul;21(4):448-57. PubMed.

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  1. Giovannetti et al. (2007) clarify certain performance anticipation issues in Alzheimer patients. Habituation or “environmental adaptation” improves performance in many behavioral studies. The improvement is mainly related to the desensitization to irrelevant stimuli and enhanced orientation to salient stimuli.

    Giovannetti et al. show that when AD patients were presented with object stimuli that were arranged meaningfully to complete a task (i.e., "adapted"), the patients performed better on goal-oriented task completion, relevant object selection, and task-relevant action.

    In AD patients, anticipation of simple action can cause catatonic states, nervous anticipatory responses, irritability, self-consciousness, or shame. And the Giovannetti et al. study shows that “adaptation” by way of meaningfully arranging interim stimuli to the terminal goal does not make a difference in such anticipatory or perseveration errors. Why is there a resistance to such basic phenomena as adaptation or habituation in AD patients? That is, why do AD patients show anticipation and perseveration regardless of prearranged stimuli?

    Sterr and Dean (2008) show that the reason may be related to aging. ERP (event-related potentials) recordings of 68-83-year-olds and 21-25-year-olds showed that, in older adults, the P300 latency amplitude was greater in the frontocentral grey and white brain matter areas when compared to the younger group. They reflect preparation, or anticipation, of a motor behavior.

    I interpret the above to mean that younger people have a faster time, and the speed of action is relevant to adaptation—habituation. Furthermore, anticipation or preparation for the next response in the action chain is altered as a result of aging—suggesting that the efferents are not activated in the frontal cortex as much in the older group as in the younger group. Thus, the problem of failure to adapt, their anticipatory errors, perseverations, catatonic states, nervous anticipatory responses, irritability, self-consciousness, or shame reactions can be attributed to the P300 latency in the frontocentral areas of the brain that is due to aging alone and not AD.

    References:

    . Environmental adaptations improve everyday action performance in Alzheimer's disease: empirical support from performance-based assessment. Neuropsychology. 2007 Jul;21(4):448-57. PubMed.

    . Neural correlates of movement preparation in healthy ageing. Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Jan;27(1) PubMed.