Memory and Executive Dysfunction in Elderly People: The Role of the Frontal Lobes
This chapter addresses the neuropathological changes that occur in normal and pathological aging. Specific attention is paid to the changes that occur in the frontal lobes and the concomitant cognitive and psychiatric changes that occur. In addition, interventions that address executive and memory dysfunctions as well as psychiatric disturbances are discussed. The neuropsychological findings are divided into disorders of memory and those of executive functioning. The processes involved in memory functioning have been mapped to the medial temporal and prefrontal regions. The age differences in memory performance appear to be due to changes in encoding processes rather than in retrieval. Disturbances in memory functioning and the inability to encode new information typically are the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Executive functions often are disrupted in dementias involving the frontal lobes, such as Pick’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.