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Concept: Middle age


Recently, economists and behavioral scientists have studied the pattern of human well-being over the lifespan. In dozens of countries, and for a large range of well-being measures, including happiness and mental health, well-being is high in youth, falls to a nadir in midlife, and rises again in old age. The reasons for this U-shape are still unclear. Present theories emphasize sociological and economic forces. In this study we show that a similar U-shape exists in 508 great apes (two samples of chimpanzees and one sample of orangutans) whose well-being was assessed by raters familiar with the individual apes. This U-shaped pattern or “midlife crisis” emerges with or without use of parametric methods. Our results imply that human well-being’s curved shape is not uniquely human and that, although it may be partly explained by aspects of human life and society, its origins may lie partly in the biology we share with great apes. These findings have implications across scientific and social-scientific disciplines, and may help to identify ways of enhancing human and ape well-being.

Concepts: Middle age, Apes, Primate, Ape, Human, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Hominidae


Volumes of paracardial adipose tissue (PAT) and epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) are greater after menopause. Interestingly, PAT but not EAT is associated with estradiol decline, suggesting a potential role of menopause in PAT accumulation. We assessed whether volumes of heart fat depot (EAT and PAT) were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) in women at midlife and whether these associations were modified by menopausal status and estradiol levels.

Concepts: Luteinizing hormone, Middle age, Hormone replacement therapy, Coronary artery disease, Menstrual cycle, Heart, Menopause, Estrogen


Older adults frequently complain that while they can hear a person talking, they cannot understand what is being said; this difficulty is exacerbated by background noise. Peripheral hearing loss cannot fully account for this age-related decline in speech-in-noise ability, as declines in central processing also contribute to this problem. Given that musicians have enhanced speech-in-noise perception, we aimed to define the effects of musical experience on subcortical responses to speech and speech-in-noise perception in middle-aged adults. Results reveal that musicians have enhanced neural encoding of speech in quiet and noisy settings. Enhancements include faster neural response timing, higher neural response consistency, more robust encoding of speech harmonics, and greater neural precision. Taken together, we suggest that musical experience provides perceptual benefits in an aging population by strengthening the underlying neural pathways necessary for the accurate representation of important temporal and spectral features of sound.

Concepts: Aging, Understanding, Music, Middle age, Hearing, Acoustics, Sound, Sense


The primary purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two different exercise training programs on executive cognitive functions and functional mobility in older adults. A secondary purpose was to explore the potential mediators of training effects on executive function and functional mobility with particular reference to physical fitness gains.

Concepts: Cognition, Old age, Middle age, Exercise


BACKGROUND: The ability to drive is important for ensuring quality of life for many older adults. Glaucoma is prevalent in this age group and may affect driving. The purpose of this study is to determine if glaucoma and glaucomatous visual field (VF) loss are associated with driving cessation, limitations, and deference to another driver in older adults. METHODS: Cross-sectional study. Eighty-one glaucoma subjects and 58 glaucoma suspect controls between age 60 and 80 reported if they had ceased driving, limited their driving in various ways, or preferred another to drive. RESULTS: Twenty-three percent of glaucoma subjects and 6.9% of suspects had ceased driving (p = 0.01). Glaucoma subjects also had more driving limitations than suspects (2.0 vs. 1.1, p = 0.007). In multivariable models, driving cessation was more likely for glaucoma subjects as compared to suspects (OR = 4.0; 95% CI = 1.1-14.7; p = 0.03). The odds of driving cessation doubled with each 5 decibel (dB) decrement in the better-eye VF mean deviation (MD) (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.4-2.9; p < 0.001). Glaucoma subjects were also more likely than suspects to report a greater number of driving limitations (OR = 4.7; 95% CI = 1.3-16.8; p = 0.02). The likelihood of reporting more limitations increased with the VF loss severity (OR = 1.6/5 dB decrement in the better-eye VF MD; 95% CI = 1.1-2.4; p = 0.02). Neither glaucoma nor VF MD was associated with other driver preference (p > 0.1 for both). CONCLUSIONS: Glaucoma and glaucomatous VF loss are associated with greater likelihood of driving cessation and greater limitation of driving in the elderly. Further prospective study is merited to assess when and why people with glaucoma change their driving habits, and to determine if their observed self-regulation of driving is adequate to ensure safety.

Concepts: Preference, Absolute deviation, Suspect, Median, Ageing, Gerontology, Middle age, Old age


Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition characterized by fractures, pain and premature death. Risk factors for osteoporosis predict the risk of fragility fractures.

Concepts: Middle age, Brain death, Legal death, Clinical death, Ageing, Old age, Gerontology, Death


[Purpose] This study was conducted to identify the effects of walking on the body composition, health-related physical fitness, and serum lipids as part of efforts to encourage middle-aged people to participate in walking as a regular and sustainable exercise. [Methods] This study was conducted as a pretest-posttest control group study. The study period was for 12 weeks from January to March 2010. The participants were 43 middle-aged women (age range: 40-55 years) with body fat rates over 30%. Subjects in the experiment group participated in the walking exercise (n = 38), the control group did not participate in the exercise (n = 23). [Results] In the exercise group, statistically significant reductions in weight and body fat were observed among the body composition measurement variables, and statistically significant increases in flexibility and cardiopulmonary endurance were observed among the physical fitness measurement variables. TC, TG, and LDL-C levels in the serum lipid measurement variables showed a statistically significant reduction in the exercise group. [Conclusion] The results of this study showed that 12 weeks of walking exercise influenced middle-aged women in a positive way by effecting changes in their body composition, physical fitness, and serum lipids. We believe that these positive changes result in positive effects on the factors for prevention of various adult diseases that can occur in middle-aged women.

Concepts: Middle age, Effect, Statistics, Fat, Physical fitness, Exercise, Obesity, Statistical significance


Described in the early 1980s as “The Silent Epidemic,” dementia in the elderly will soon become a clarion call for public health experts worldwide. The epidemic is largely explained by the prevalence of dementia in persons 80 years of age or older. In most countries around the world, especially wealthy ones, this “old old” population will continue to grow, and since it accounts for the largest proportion of dementia cases, the dementia epidemic will grow worldwide. The combined effects of longer lives and the dramatic bulge of baby boomers reaching old age will magnify the epidemic in future decades. Although . . .

Concepts: Ageing, Middle age, Gerontology, Old age


To study the relation among psychosocial stressors, long-standing distress and incidence of dementia, in a sample of women followed from midlife to late life.

Concepts: Neurology, Sundowning, Wandering, Epidemiology, Caregiving and dementia, Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Middle age


The most common form of heart failure occurs with normal systolic function and often involves cardiac hypertrophy in the elderly. To clarify the biological mechanisms that drive cardiac hypertrophy in aging, we tested the influence of circulating factors using heterochronic parabiosis, a surgical technique in which joining of animals of different ages leads to a shared circulation. After 4 weeks of exposure to the circulation of young mice, cardiac hypertrophy in old mice dramatically regressed, accompanied by reduced cardiomyocyte size and molecular remodeling. Reversal of age-related hypertrophy was not attributable to hemodynamic or behavioral effects of parabiosis, implicating a blood-borne factor. Using modified aptamer-based proteomics, we identified the TGF-β superfamily member GDF11 as a circulating factor in young mice that declines with age. Treatment of old mice to restore GDF11 to youthful levels recapitulated the effects of parabiosis and reversed age-related hypertrophy, revealing a therapeutic opportunity for cardiac aging. PAPERFLICK:

Concepts: Cardiac muscle, Age, Middle age, Heart, Ageing, Gerontology, Old age