Sex and Cognition in Later Life: Exploring Links Between Intimacy and Brain Function

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks, Nele Demeyere

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

In our previous study, we established a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function, in a large nationally representative cohort of men and women aged 50-89 years. Although the sample size in this study was impressive, one limitation was the use of broad measures of cognitive function. The aims of the current study are twofold: i) to explore whether sexual activity is associated with performance on a broader range of cognitive tests, and ii) to explore the role of frequency of sexual activity in the association with cognitive function.
We administered questionnaires and cognitive tests in 73 volunteers aged 50-83 years. Preliminary analyses show a significant linear relationship between increasing frequency of sexual activity (i.e. never, monthly, weekly) and increasing performance on a range of cognitive tests.
We discuss our findings in relation to the underlying biological mechanisms of sexual activity and intimate relationships that may influence brain function in later life, as well as limitations posed by ceiling effects in available cognitive screens. We conclude that greater frequency of sexual activity is associated with better cognitive function in a wide range of tests, which has implications for sexual and cognitive wellbeing in older age.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAging and Society: Sixth Interdisciplinary Conference - Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden
Duration: 6 Oct 20167 Oct 2016
http://agingandsociety.com/about/history/2016-conference (Link to conference site)

Conference

ConferenceAging and Society: Sixth Interdisciplinary Conference
CountrySweden
CityNorrköping
Period6/10/167/10/16
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Wright, H., Jenks, R., & Demeyere, N. (2016). Sex and Cognition in Later Life: Exploring Links Between Intimacy and Brain Function. Abstract from Aging and Society: Sixth Interdisciplinary Conference, Norrköping, Sweden.