Background: Dementia involves a neuronal loss in the primary somatosensory cortex of the parietal lobe, causing dementia patients to perceive pain stimuli hardly. The function of temperature sensation declines. Studies measuring brain blood volume using near-infrared light have reported that patients suffering from dementia have less activation than healthy elderly people. However, the majority of these studies used tests related to cognitive function and the frontal lobe, and few have examined thermal sensation.
Objective: The present study aimed to investigate the effect of cold and warm stimulation on cerebral blood volume in elderly and young subjects.
Material and Methods: This observational study measured changes in oxygenated hemoglobin concentrations in the frontal cortex during cold and warm stimulation in elderly and young subjects using a near-infrared light device. The mean and standard deviation of the change in oxygenated hemoglobin concentration before and after cold and warm stimulation, as well as the center-of-gravity values, were compared between the young and the elderly.
Results: During warm stimulation, the younger subjects showed an increase in blood oxygenated hemoglobin levels; however, the difference was not significant. For the elderly, no change was observed during the task. The center of gravity values was lower in the young compared to the elderly which was similar to the reaction threshold. No significant changes were observed during cold stimulation.
Conclusion: Thermal sensation thresholds were impaired in the elderly compared to the young; however, cerebral blood volume changes were unclear.