Lifestyle Engagement Affects Cognitive Status Differences and Trajectories on Executive Functions in Older Adults

These findings indicate that the pattern of individual differences in executive functioning is affected by sample composition and a function of individual differences in neural integrity and life experience

C. M. de Frias; R. A. Dixon

2013

Scholarcy highlights

  • According to such hypotheses as “use it or lose it” or activities enrichment, leading a lifestyle rich with engaging activities or environmental complexity may have enhancing effects on brain and cognitive health with aging
  • We investigated two research goals, both pertaining to the potential effects of lifestyle activities on performance or stability related to cognitive status: the potential moderating effects of lifestyle engagement on cognitive status differences in executive functioning performance, and whether lifestyle engagement predicts two-wave maintenance of cognitive status
  • The EF domain was handled as a single factor as per our prior findings showing that a unidimensional structure fit all three groups and other samples from the Victoria Longitudinal Study
  • We found support for social engagement as a moderator of cognitive status differences in general EF performance
  • The cognitively normal group performed lower on EF yet at a steady level across the same activity domain. These findings extend other studies by supporting the social engagement hypothesis such that higher social activity among cognitively healthy or elite, CN, and cognitively impaired older adults is associated with better EF, whereas low levels of social activity in CI adults is related to an EF deficit
  • For the CE – CE versus CN – CN comparison, engagement in novel information processing activities predicted group membership, Exp(b) 1⁄4 3.52, 95% CI 1⁄4 1.49 –8.28, p
  • Our results suggest that the ability to maintain a healthy level of social activity may be challenging in some CI adults which may further compromise their EF performance
  • Future clinical research on cognitive interventions in normal and impaired aging should target lower performing and perhaps clinically notable groups of cognitively impaired older adults, perhaps with a tripartite engagement regimen, examining either separately or interactively elements of physical, cognitive, and social activities or training, namely, a holistic approach

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