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Sending Your Grandparents to University Increases Cognitive Reserve: The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project


Lenehan, ME and Summers, MJ and Saunders, NL and Summers, JJ and Ward, DD and Ritchie, K and Vickers, JC, Sending Your Grandparents to University Increases Cognitive Reserve: The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project, Neuropsychology, 30, (5) pp. 525-531. ISSN 0894-4105 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2015 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/neu0000249


OBJECTIVE: Increasing an individual's level of cognitive reserve (CR) has been suggested as a nonpharmacological approach to reducing the risk for Alzheimer's disease. We examined changes in CR in older adults participating over 4 years in the Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project.

METHOD: A sample of 459 healthy older adults between 50 and 79 years of age underwent a comprehensive annual assessment of current CR, neuropsychological function, and psychosocial factors over a 4-year period. The intervention group of 359 older adults (M = 59.61 years, SD = 6.67) having completed a minimum of 12 months part-time university study were compared against a control reference group of 100 adults (M = 62.49 years, SD = 6.24) who did not engage in further education.

RESULTS: Growth mixture modeling demonstrated that 44.3% of the control sample showed no change in CR, whereas 92.5% of the further education participants displayed a significant linear increase in CR over the 4 years of the study. These results indicate that older adults engaging in high-level mental stimulation display an increase in CR over a 4-year period.

CONCLUSION: Increasing mental activity in older adulthood may be a viable strategy to improve cognitive function and offset cognitive decline associated with normal aging.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Cognitive Reserve
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Lenehan, ME (Dr Megan Thow)
UTAS Author:Summers, MJ (Dr Mathew Summers)
UTAS Author:Saunders, NL (Dr Nichole Saunders)
UTAS Author:Summers, JJ (Professor Jeffery Summers)
UTAS Author:Ward, DD (Mr David Ward)
UTAS Author:Vickers, JC (Professor James Vickers)
ID Code:104786
Year Published:2016 (online first 2015)
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-11-19
Last Modified:2019-09-09
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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