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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2002 Mar;57(2):P153-62.

Activity in older adults: cause or consequence of cognitive functioning? A longitudinal study on everyday activities and cognitive performance in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Social Gerontology, Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands.


The impact of three types of everyday activities (i.e., social, experiential, and developmental) on four cognitive functions (i.e., immediate recall, learning, fluid intelligence, and information-processing speed) and one global indicator of cognitive functioning (Mini-Mental State Exam score) over a period of 6 years was studied in a large 55--85 year-old population-based sample (N = 2,076). A cross-lagged regression model with latent variables was applied to each combination of 1 cognitive function and 1 type of activity, resulting in 15 (3 x 5) different models. None of the activities were found to enhance cognitive functioning 6 years later when controlling for age, gender, level of education, and health, as well as for unknown confounding variables. Conversely, one cognitive function (i.e., information-processing speed) appeared to affect developmental activity. It is suggested that no specific activity, but rather socioeconomic status to which activities are closely connected, contributes to maintenance of cognitive functions.

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