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Social network size and cognitive functioning in middle-aged adults: cross-sectional and longitudinal associations
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2475-7131
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2017 (English)In: Journal of Adult Development, ISSN 1068-0667, E-ISSN 1573-3440, Vol. 24, no 2, 77-88 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The objective of the present study was to examine relations between social network size and three cognitive abilities (episodic memory, semantic memory, visuospatial ability) in middle-aged adults. We analyzed cross-sectional data on social network size and cognitive functioning that were available for 804 participants aged 40–60 years. In addition, we examined 5- and 10-year follow-up measurements of cognitive functioning that were available for 604 and 255 participants, respectively. Cross-sectional analyses revealed a positive association between social network size and each of the three cognitive abilities. Baseline network size was positively related to 5-year changes in semantic memory, and to 10-year changes in semantic as well as episodic memory, but was unrelated to changes in visuospatial performance. A minor portion of the sample (n = 131) had 10-year follow-up data on network size. Cross-lagged panel correlations revealed that baseline network size was associated with follow-up measurement in cognitive functioning (episodic memory, semantic memory), whereas baseline cognitive performance was unrelated to future network size. Together, the results demonstrate a small but positive relation between network size and declarative memory abilities, in line with models proposing a cognitive reserve built up by factors such as the increased cognitive stimulation associated with a more extensive social network.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 24, no 2, 77-88 p.
Keyword [en]
Cognition, Longitudinal, Cross-sectional, Social network, Cognitive reserve
National Category
Psychology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Sociology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101832DOI: 10.1007/s10804-016-9248-3ISI: 000399825300001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-101832DiVA: diva2:804976
Note

Originally published in manuscript form.

Available from: 2015-04-14 Created: 2015-04-14 Last updated: 2017-05-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The influence of social relationships and leisure activity on adult cognitive functioning and risk of dementia: Longitudinal population-based studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The influence of social relationships and leisure activity on adult cognitive functioning and risk of dementia: Longitudinal population-based studies
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Sociala relationers och fritidsaktiviteters påverkan på kognitiv funktion i vuxenliv och risk för demens : Longitudinella populationsbaserade studier
Abstract [en]

Today, as we live longer, dementia diseases are becoming more prevalent around the world. Thus, further knowledge of how to maintain levels of cognitive functioning in old age and how to identify factors that postpone the onset of dementia are of acute interest. Lifestyle patterns and social life are important aspects to consider in this regard.

This thesis includes three studies. Study I investigated the association between participation in various leisure activities in old age (≥65 years) and risk of incident all-cause dementia. Analyses of the total follow-up time period (15 years) showed that higher levels of “Social” and “Total” leisure activity were associated with decreased risk of dementia. In Study II, the aim was to investigate the association between various aspects of social relationships in old age (≥65 years) and risk of incidents of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Results showed that over the total follow-up period (16 years) higher values on the relationship index were associated with reduced risk of both dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Visiting/visits of friends and acquaintances more than once a week was related to decreased risk for all-cause dementia, but not for Alzheimer's disease. However, in neither Study I nor II did any of these factors alter the risk of all-cause dementia or Alzheimer's disease when near-onset dementias were removed from the analyses (Study I, up to five years; Study II, up to three years).

In Study III the aim was to investigate the association between social network size and cognitive ability in a middle-aged (40–60 years) sample. The idea was that if social network size can moderate negative age-related influence on memory functions, it might also put an individual on a cognitive trajectory that is beneficial in old age. Results from longitudinal analyses showed that baseline network size was positively related to five-year changes in semantic memory and with changes in both semantic and episodic memory at the ten-year follow-up. Social network size was unrelated to changes in visuospatial performance.

Taken together, enrichment factors measured in old age (≥ 65 years) did not alter the risk of all-cause dementia or Alzheimer's disease when near-onset dementias were removed from the analyses. These results might reflect protective short-term effects or reverse causality, meaning that in the prodromal phase of dementia individuals tend to withdraw from activity. Social network size in middle age (40-60 years), however, appears to have beneficial long-term effects on cognitive functioning. The results highlight the importance of long follow-up periods and the need to adjust for the influences of reverse causality when investigating the impact of a socially and mentally active life on cognitive functioning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2015. 103 p.
Keyword
Cognitive functioning, cognition, memory, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive reserve, reverse causality, old age, middle age, leisure activity, social relationships, social network, longitudinal
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101840 (URN)978-91-7601-242-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-08, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Hörsal 1031, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (Swedish)
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Available from: 2015-04-17 Created: 2015-04-14 Last updated: 2015-04-23Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson Sörman, DanielSundström, Anna

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Eriksson Sörman, DanielRönnlund, MichaelSundström, AnnaNorberg, MargaretaNilsson, Lars-Göran
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