Aging and Human Motivation by Ernest Furchtgott

By Ernest Furchtgott

I first met Ernest Furchtgott twenty-five years in the past after becoming a member of the college of the school of Social paintings on the college of South Carolina. at the moment, Ernie chaired the dept of Psychology. within the following 3 years we collaborated with an educational Committee on Gerontology in conceptualizing and shaping the University's certificates of Graduate learn in Gerontology application, guiding it to ultimate approval by way of the South Carolina fee on larger schooling. For 20 years we staff­ taught our graduate-level path, "Psychosocial ways to Geron­ tology," concerning colleagues from similar disciplines. through the years, we tested and together graded enormous quantities of study posters ready by means of our graduate scholars in gerontology as their ultimate direction requirement. a number of years in the past, Ernie officially retired from the collage. He in­ stantly agreed to my request that he proceed educating the psychology of getting older part of our interdisciplinary path. On campus approximately on a daily basis considering that retirement, Ernie often telephoned to debate are­ cent article within the Gerontologist or a paper presentation that had ex­ pointed out him on the Gerontological Society's annual medical assembly. He maintained a transparent presence within the educational community.

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None ofthe studies they reviewed involved older individuals. Schneiderman, McCabe, and Baum (1992) edited a volume on stress and disease processes, with the majority of contributions devoted to an analysis of immune functions, but this volume has few references to studies of older persons. Declines in the circulating levels of natural antibodies in older humans have been known since the 1920s (Makinodan, 1977). Many diseases that occur more frequently in the aged have been ascribed to declines in the immune system, and this has led to biological theories of Biological Foundations 35 aging implicating the immune system (Makinodan, 1977).

However, it needs to be emphasized that many endocrine-associated disease states of the elderly, such as diabetes mellitus, will have major consequences at any age. These effects are, therefore, more properly associated with pathology rather than eugeric aging or "normal" aging. For purposes of this review, we consider primarily those glands that play a significant role in the energizing, thus in the motivational, aspects of behavior. The Pituitary and the Adrenal Cortex The anterior lobe of the pituitary shows relatively few structural changes with age, and the secretion of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) remains stable throughout life.

While aging does not seem to affect presynaptic serotonin levels, postsynaptically, changes have been reported, especially in SDAT patients (Morgan & May, 1990). First, it is not possible to provide a brief summary of all neurotransmitter changes with age. It is analogous to the question, how are brain functions affected as a person ages? Aside from the technical difficulties in the assay of dozens of putative transmitters, the fundamental problem of separating "normal" aging changes from "pathological" disturbances remains.

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