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Brain Sci. 2017, 7(6), 56; doi:10.3390/brainsci7060056

How Does Psychosocial Behavior Contribute to Cognitive Health in Old Age?

1
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
2
Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
3
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Stephanie Cacioppo
Received: 23 March 2017 / Revised: 18 May 2017 / Accepted: 22 May 2017 / Published: 23 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Best Practices in Social Neuroscience)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [250 KB, uploaded 23 May 2017]

Abstract

With the aging of the U.S. population, the number of cognitively disabled persons is expected to substantially increase in coming decades, underscoring the urgent need for effective interventions. Here, we review the current evidence linking psychosocial factors to late-life cognitive loss and consider the study design needed to illuminate the biologic bases of the associations. We then examine an ongoing study that includes several of the key design elements, the Rush Memory and Aging Project. In this longitudinal clinical-pathological cohort study, indicators of personality, social connectedness, and psychological well-being were shown to predict late-life cognitive outcomes. Participants who died underwent a uniform neuropathologic examination to quantify common dementia-related pathologies. Some psychosocial indicators were associated with cerebral infarction; some indicators modified the association of neurodegenerative pathologies with cognitive loss; and the association of some indicators with cognitive outcomes appears to be independent of the pathologies traditionally associated with late-life dementia. These findings suggest that psychosocial behavior influences late-life cognitive health through multiple neurobiologic mechanisms. A better understanding of these mechanisms may lead to novel strategies for preserving cognitive health in old age. View Full-Text
Keywords: neuroticism; loneliness; well-being; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; longitudinal study; clinical-pathologic study; neuropathologic examination neuroticism; loneliness; well-being; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; longitudinal study; clinical-pathologic study; neuropathologic examination
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wilson, R.S.; Bennett, D.A. How Does Psychosocial Behavior Contribute to Cognitive Health in Old Age? Brain Sci. 2017, 7, 56.

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