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Do Professors Better Maintain Cognitive Functioning in Older Age?


Aschwanden, Damaris; Schumacher, Vera; Zimmermann, Kathrin; Werner, Christina; Allemand, Mathias; Zimprich, Daniel; Martin, Mike (2019). Do Professors Better Maintain Cognitive Functioning in Older Age? GeroPsych, 32(1):5-17.

Abstract

Research on cognitive aging demonstrates age-related cognitive decline. Education is a protective factor against cognitive decline, but few studies have examined the cognitive development of highly educated individuals. This study compared the cognitive performance and intellectual engagement of retired professors (N = 47, Mage = 72.9) and individuals with average education (N = 236, Mage = 72.7) over 5 years. Although the highly educated sample showed better performance in perceptual speed and working memory, cognitive performance was rather stable over time in both samples. Interestingly, high intellectual engagement enabled individuals with average education to keep up with the performance of the highly educated sample on perceptual speed. These findings raise the question whether intellectual engagement is more beneficial than years of education in perceptual speed.

Abstract

Research on cognitive aging demonstrates age-related cognitive decline. Education is a protective factor against cognitive decline, but few studies have examined the cognitive development of highly educated individuals. This study compared the cognitive performance and intellectual engagement of retired professors (N = 47, Mage = 72.9) and individuals with average education (N = 236, Mage = 72.7) over 5 years. Although the highly educated sample showed better performance in perceptual speed and working memory, cognitive performance was rather stable over time in both samples. Interestingly, high intellectual engagement enabled individuals with average education to keep up with the performance of the highly educated sample on perceptual speed. These findings raise the question whether intellectual engagement is more beneficial than years of education in perceptual speed.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Gerontology, Geriatrics and Gerontology
Language:English
Date:1 March 2019
Deposited On:26 Sep 2019 12:54
Last Modified:26 Sep 2019 12:56
Publisher:Hogrefe & Huber
ISSN:1662-9647
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1024/1662-9647/a000201
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014-103525
  • : Project TitleLearning, forgetting, and memory development in old age
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014-122613
  • : Project TitleLongitudinally Correlated Changes in Learning and Cognition in Old Age Across Five Years

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