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|Title:||Is mid-life social participation associated with cognitive function at age 50? Results from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS)|
|Keywords:||Cognitive function;Civic engagement;Predictor;Longitudinal;Cohort|
|Citation:||BMC Psychology, 4(58): pp. 1-15, (2016)|
|Abstract:||Background: Some studies have indicated that social engagement is associated with better cognitive outcomes. This study aimed to investigate associations between life-course social engagement (civic participation) and cognitive status at age 50, adjusting for social networks and support, behavioural, health, social and socio-economic characteristics. Methods: The vehicle for the study was the National Child Development Study (1958 Birth Cohort Study), which is a general population sample in England, Scotland and Wales (9119: 4497 men and 4622 women) participating in nationally representative, prospective birth cohort surveys. The primary outcome variable was cognitive status at age 50, measured by memory test (immediate and delayed word recall test) and executive functioning test (word fluency and letter cancelation tests). The influence of hypothesised predictor variables was analysed using linear multiple regression analysis. Results: Cognitive ability at age 11 (β = 0.19;95% CI = 0.17 to 0.21), participation in civic activities at ages 33 (0.12; 0.02 to 0.22) and 50 (0.13; 0.07 to 0.20), frequent engagement in physical activity (sport) (β from 0.15 to 0.18), achieving higher level qualifications (β from 0.23 to 1.08), and female gender (β = 0.49;95% CI = 0.38 to 0.60) were positively, significantly and independently associated with cognitive status at age 50. Having low socio-economic status at ages 11 (β from -0.22 to -0.27) and 42 (β from -0.28 to -0.38), and manifesting worse mental well-being at age 42 (β = -0.18; 95% CI = -0.33 to -0.02) were inversely associated with cognitive status at age 50. The proportion of explained variance in the multiple regression model (18%), while modest, is impressive given the multi-faceted causal nature of cognitive status. Conclusions: The results indicate that modest associations between adult social engagement and cognitive function at age 50 persist after adjusting for covariates which included health, socio-economic status and gender, supporting theories of neuroplasticity. In addition to the continuing emphasis on physical activity, the encouragement of civic participation, at least as early as mid-life, should be a targeted policy to potentially promote and protect cognitive function in later mid-life.|
|Appears in Collections:||Dept of Clinical Sciences Research Papers|
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