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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Jul;66 Suppl 1:i130-40. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr017.

Cognitive functioning in midlife and old age: combined effects of psychosocial and behavioral factors.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA. stefana@brandeis.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study examined the joint protective contribution of psychosocial and behavioral factors to cognitive functioning and 10-year change, beyond the influence of sociodemographic factors, physical risk factors, health status, and engagement in cognitive activities.

METHODS:

Participants were from the National Study of Midlife in the United States (MIDUS), ages 32-84 at Time 2, and a subsample, the Boston Longitudinal Study (BOLOS), ages 34-84 at Time 2. We computed a composite protective measure including control beliefs, quality of social support, and physical exercise variables at two occasions, 9-10 years apart. Cognition was assessed at Time 2 in MIDUS and at both occasions in BOLOS. Multiple regressions were used for analysis.

RESULTS:

In MIDUS, the more of the protective factors, the better the cognitive performance, and the protective composite moderated education differences in memory. In BOLOS, the Time 1 composite predicted change in reasoning abilities, with a greater protective effect for those with lower education.

DISCUSSION:

A combination of modifiable psychosocial and behavioral factors has both concurrent and long-term protective effects on cognition in adulthood. The results are promising in that educational disparities in memory and reasoning were reduced, suggesting possible interventions to protect against cognitive declines.

PMID:
21743046
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3132767
Free PMC Article

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