Fiedler, E.R., Hawkins, M.M., Schroeder, D.J. and Schultz, R., Civil Aerospace Medical Institute/Federal Aviation Administration and Moore, J.L., Robert E. Mitchell Center for POW Studies, Naval Operational Medicine Institute, USA
Research has shown that there are some decrements in neuropsychological performance with aging. Given the importance of cognitive and motor skills in aviation, these aging issues are of particular relevance to the aviator population. Because there are individual differences in aging and performance, a standardized method should be utilized to assess older aviators. An adequate methodology would include the availability of age- adjusted norms, to aid in the discrimination between "benign" effects of normal aging versus decrements in cognitive and visual motor skills that put aviation performance at risk. The CogScreen-AE is a neuropsychological screen that provides speed, accuracy, and thruput (efficiency) scores for several dimensions related to aviation proficiency. The original sample used to norm the test had a mean age of 42.8 years, with only 85 aviators aged 55 or older. We validated the CogScreen on an older group (mean age of 57.8 years, 243 aviators aged 55 or older). Our analysis included three specific groups not broken out for analysis in the original development of norms: ages 55-59, 60-64, and 65-73. The main effect of age was significant on MANOVA (Wilks' Lambda F = 1.620, p <.001). On univariate analysis, age was significant for 14 of the speed performance variables, 12 accuracy measures, 12 Thruput measures, and for the Logistic Regression Probability Value for brain dysfunction. Discussion focuses on cognitive functions that showed the most effect by age and the implications of those changes for aviator performance.