Abstract

Introduction: The widely-supported vascular depression hypothesis is underspecified with respect to cognitive mechanisms by which high cerebrovascular burden (CVB) and neuropathology relate to depressive symptoms. Integration of the vascular depression hypothesis with the CaR-FA-X model, a framework of affect regulation mechanisms, suggest that Rumination (R) and executive dysfunction (X) may increase due to altered recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex resulting from high CVB and underlying neuropathology. This process would contribute to depressive symptomatology among older adults with high CVB. The progression of examined hypotheses included mediation models examining mechanistic relationships between predictors (CVB, DLPFC activation), cognitive correlates (rumination, executive functioning), and affective outcomes (depressive symptoms). Method: A sample of 52 community-dwelling, stroke-free, individuals over the age of 70, without history of severe mental illness, dementia, or severe cognitive impairment, completed the Ruminative Responses Scale, provided self-reported cerebrovascular burden data (cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol), and completed executive function tasks (Stroop, Flanker) while their hemodynamic response was measured using fNIRS. The Geriatric Depression Scale was used to assess depressive symptomatology. Prefrontal cortical recruitment was assessed using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Results: A progression of conventional and bootstrapped regression-based models broadly supported relationships between CVB and depressive symptoms, but not between DLPFC activation and depressive symptoms. No mechanistic relationships were found, with respect to analyses testing prospective cognitive mediators. Conclusions: Primary findings from this study indicate that cerebrovascular burden predicts depressive symptomatology among older adults and is related to a reduction in inhibitory control ability. Further, these findings inform CVB measurement and mental health implications of contrasting approaches to CVB measurement. A primary contribution of this thesis is that results appear to support utilization of fNIRS, a low-cost and accessible neuroimaging paradigm, for the study of lateralized cognition among older adults.

Graduation Date

2018

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Paulson, Daniel

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology Clinical

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0006981

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0006981

Language

English

Release Date

May 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

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