Gender, cognition and cognitive lifestyle in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Hayley Wright, Francesco Cappuccio, Michelle Miller

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Gender differences are present in a range of cognitive functions across the lifespan (Halpern, 1992; Munro et al., 2012). Recent research has shown gender differences in ‘cognitive lifestyle’ in older age (Valenzuela et al., 2013), as well as associations between richer cognitive lifestyle and a slower rate of cognitive decline (Marioni et al., 2012). The present study assesses the association between gender and cognitive function, and the mediating effect of cognitive lifestyle, in an ageing English population. Data were drawn from Wave 4 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (n = 8688). Cognitive function scores were adjusted (ANCOVA) for basic demographic factors which have been shown to directly affect or mediate cognitive function (age, education, employment grade), as well as for the general lifestyle and social factors pertaining to cognitive lifestyle. After adjustments, there were statistically significant gender differences in cognitive function scores. Women scored higher than men on tests of immediate and delayed recall (both p < 0.001), speed of processing (p < 0.001) and search accuracy (p = 0.016), whereas men scored higher than women on numeracy tests (p < 0.001). There were also significant gender differences in engagement with certain aspects of cognitive lifestyle. Prospective studies are required to establish whether increased engagement in cognitive lifestyle has a causal role in improving or preserving cognitive function in older age. Evidence of a prospective association could have implications for interventions to assess whether gender-specific modifications to cognitive lifestyle can slow or prevent cognitive decline in later life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Event44th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference - Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom
    Duration: 1 Jul 20153 Jul 2015


    Conference44th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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