Social Resources as Compensatory Cognitive Reserve? Interactions of Social Resources with Education in Predicting Late-Life Cognition.

Tim Windsor, Paolo Ghisletta, Denis Gerstorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective
Access to social relationships has been linked with better cognitive performance. We examined whether social resources interact with education to predict cognitive outcomes, which could indicate that social resources fulfill a compensatory role in promoting cognitive reserve.
Method
We applied multilevel growth models to 6-wave, 13-year longitudinal data from the Berlin Aging Study (aged 70–103 years at first occasion; M = 84.9 years, 50% women) and have taken into account key individual difference factors, including sociodemographic variables, medically diagnosed comorbidities, and depressive symptoms. To account for possible reverse causality, analyses were conducted on a subset of the BASE participants without dementia (n = 368), and in follow-up analyses with the full sample (n = 516) using wave-specific longitudinal assessments of probable dementia status as a covariate.
Results
Larger networks were associated with better performance on tests of perceptual speed and verbal fluency, but did not interact with education, providing little support for a compensatory reserve hypothesis. An interaction of education with emotional loneliness emerged in the prediction of perceptual speed, suggesting that the educational divide in speed was minimal among people who reported lower levels of loneliness.
Discussion
We discuss our results in the context of differential implications of social resources for cognition and consider possible mechanisms underlying our findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-1461
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series B - Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume75
Issue number7
Early online date10 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Berlin Aging Study (BASE)
  • Cognitive aging
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Social networks
  • Cognition

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