Frequent sexual activity predicts specific cognitive abilities in older adults

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks, Nele Demeyere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objectives This study replicates and extends the findings of previous research (Wright, H., & Jenks, R. A. (2016). Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. Age and Ageing, 45, 313-317. doi:10.1093/ageing/afv197) which found a significant association between sexual activity (SA) and cognitive function in older adults. Specifically, this study aimed to generalize these findings to a range of cognitive domains, and to assess whether increasing SA frequency is associated with increasing scores on a variety of cognitive tasks. Methods Seventy-three participants aged 50-83 years took part in the study (38.4% male, 61.6% female). Participants completed the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) cognitive assessment and a questionnaire on SA frequency (never, monthly, or weekly), and general health and lifestyle. Results Weekly SA was a significant predictor of total ACE-III, fluency, and visuospatial scores in regression models, including age, gender, education, and cardiovascular health. Discussion Greater frequency of SA was associated with better overall ACE-III scores and scores on subtests of verbal fluency and visuospatial ability. Both of these tasks involve working memory and executive function, and links between sexual behavior, memory, and dopamine are discussed. The findings have implications for the maintenance of intimate relationships in later life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume74
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • Addenbrooke's cognitive examination III
  • Cognition
  • Dopamine
  • Intimate relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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  • Press / Media

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    Over-50s + sex = boosted brain function

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