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J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;36(1):87-97. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130143.

Cognitive lifestyle in older persons: the population-based Sydney Memory and Ageing Study.

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Regenerative Neuroscience Group, Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Cognitive lifestyle may be an important modifiable risk factor for dementia but has not yet been comprehensively studied in healthy elderly.


To examine gender- and lifespan-related differences in cognitive lifestyle in a population-based cohort.


872 individuals from the second wave of the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS) cohort were invited to complete the Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire (LEQ), a validated measure of cognitive lifestyle. Of 555 questionnaires returned (64%), 253 were excluded due to prior diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, leaving n = 302 cognitively-intact elders (mean age 80.1 years, ±SD 4.7, 40.1% men).


Total LEQ was significantly higher in men (97.9 ± 20.0) than women (90.0 ± 24.5), resulting mainly from midlife LEQ differences. Men were more likely to have worked in managerial or professional jobs (73.8% versus 39.5% women), and twice as likely to have supervised large groups of workers. In late life, women were significantly more likely to be living alone (68.1% versus 25.4% men), but otherwise significantly more engaged in specific cognitive activities, including reading novels (72.3% versus 52.0% men) and incorporating volunteer work (31.9% versus 19.7% men) and socializing (59.0% versus 37.0% men) into their typical day. Over the adult lifespan, it was more common for men and women to transition between LEQ tertiles than remain the same.


Cognitive lifestyle changes over the adult lifespan and exhibits a range of gender-based differences. While older women are more likely to be living alone they generally lead a more active current cognitive lifestyle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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