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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2017 Sep 1;72(5):752-760. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw025.

Cognitive Benefits of Online Social Networking for Healthy Older Adults.

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Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson.



Research suggests that older adults who remain socially active and cognitively engaged have better cognitive function than those who are isolated and disengaged. This study examined the efficacy of learning and using an online social networking website,, as an intervention to maintain or enhance cognitive function in older adults.


Forty-one older adults were assigned to learn and use Facebook (n = 14) or an online diary website (active control, n = 13) for 8 weeks or placed on a waitlist (n = 14). Outcome measures included neuropsychological tests of executive functions, memory, and processing speed and self-report questionnaires about social engagement.


The Facebook group showed a significant increase in a composite measure of updating, an executive function factor associated with complex working memory tasks, compared to no significant change in the control groups. Other measures of cognitive function and social support showed no differential improvement in the Facebook group.


Learning and using an online social networking site may provide specific benefits for complex working memory in a group of healthy older adults. This may reflect the particular cognitive demands associated with online social networking and/or the benefits of social engagement more generally.


Executive function; Social interaction; Social media; Technology; Training; Working memory

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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