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 varsity of Social paintings on the collage of South Carolina. at the moment, Ernie chaired the dept of Psychology. within the following 3 years we collaborated with a tutorial Committee on Gerontology in conceptualizing and shaping the University's certificates of Graduate research in Gerontology software, guiding it to ultimate approval through the South Carolina fee on greater schooling. For 20 years we staff­ taught our graduate-level path, "Psychosocial methods to Geron­ tology," related to colleagues from comparable disciplines. through the years, we tested and together graded 1000s of study posters ready by way of our graduate scholars in gerontology as their ultimate direction requirement. numerous 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 component to our interdisciplinary path. On campus approximately each day for the reason that retirement, Ernie often telephoned to debate are­ cent article within the Gerontologist or a paper presentation that had ex­ stated him on the Gerontological Society's annual medical assembly. He maintained a transparent presence within the educational community.

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Age-associated impairment in the ability to maintain blood-glucose homeostasis after ingestion of glucose has been known since about 1920 (Timiras, 1988, p. 258). Even in healthy individuals, there is a slight rise in fasting blood glucose levels with increasing age. This increase is, however, small compared to the rise seen after the ingestion of glucose, referred to as glucose "tolerance," the ability to dispose of ingested glucose. Plasma levels of glucose are measured before and after the ingestion of a standard oral load of dextrose.

By the ninth decade, T4 metabolism may be reduced by 50% from the adult level. Impairments in the hypothalamo-pituitary- Biological Foundations 31 thyroid axis with age are also evident (Reymond, Donda, & Lemarchand-Beraud, 1989) in that decrements in both the thyroid-releasing hormone and thyrotropin have been found, and the prevalence of hypothyroidism is higher in older individuals. This may represent an accumulation of thyroid disturbances occurring over several decades (Runnels, Garry, Hunt, & Standefer, 1991).

Sapolsky (1990) speculates that in aged humans, the normal feedback sensitivity of the glucocoticoids to ACTH stimulation may be close to a threshold of dysfunction; thus, any disorder, such as depression, SDAT, or psychotic disorders, may reveal pituitary-adrenal dysfunctions. As in other organismic systems the HPA becomes dysfunctional when major stressors or stimuli that deviate very much from a "normal" level impinge on the organism. It is difficult, however, to quantify major deviations. The Adrenal Medulla The adrenal medulla is part of the SNS, and it has rich vascular connections with the adrenal cortex.

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