Social Functions Decline with Age, Independently of Executive Functions
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Objectives- To determine whether old people are worse than young people at measures of social functions (SFs), and if any such effects can be explained by differences in executivefunctions performance (EFs). Design- A correlational design was used to determine group differences and within group correlations. Methods- 48 young participants (mean age=21) and 48 old participants (mean age=70.8) were administered The Mind in the Eyes (Baron Cohen et al. 2001) and The Awareness of Social Inference Test (Mcdonald et al., 2002) to measure social functions. The Dual tasking paper-and-pencil test (Della Sala et al., 2010), Stroop test (taken from Delis et al., 2001) and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test were administered to measure executive functions. Results- Older participant group performed worse at both SF and EF measures. EF ability predicted some of the scores on social tests, but acted as a covariate for the effects of age. Dual tasking was found to be unrelated to either EF or SF tests. Conclusions- Executive dysfunction underlies some of the declines in social functions with age, but does not adequately explain them all.