Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50940. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050940. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Active cognitive lifestyle is associated with positive cognitive health transitions and compression of morbidity from age sixty-five.

Author information

  • 1Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



Three factors commonly used as measures of cognitive lifestyle are education, occupation, and social engagement. This study determined the relative importance of each variable to long term cognitive health in those with and without severe cognitive impairment.


Data came from 12,470 participants from a multi-centre population-based cohort (Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study). Respondents were aged 65 years and over and were followed-up over 16 years. Cognitive states of no impairment, slight impairment, and moderate/severe impairment were defined, based on scores from the Mini-Mental State Examination. Multi-state modelling was used to investigate links between component cognitive lifestyle variables, cognitive state transitions over time, and death.


Higher educational attainment and a more complex mid-life occupation were associated with a lower risk of moving from a non-impaired to a slightly impaired state (hazard ratios 0.5 and 0.8), but with increased mortality from a severely impaired state (1.3 and 1.1). More socially engaged individuals had a decreased risk of moving from a slightly impaired state to a moderately/severely impaired state (0.7). All three cognitive lifestyle variables were linked to an increased chance of cognitive recovery back to the non-impaired state.


In those without severe cognitive impairment, different aspects of cognitive lifestyle predict positive cognitive transitions over time, and in those with severe cognitive impairment, a reduced life-expectancy. An active cognitive lifestyle is therefore linked to compression of cognitive morbidity in late life.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk