Psychological wellbeing could impact cognitive functioning

sk on Unsplash

Psychological well-being at 52 years old were prospectively associated with cognitive function at 69 years old, according to a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.  

People around the world are living longer, and dementia has consequently become recognized as a public health priority in many countries. Midlife is a critical period for dementia-related brain changes and psychosocial crises. Psychological wellbeing can improve resilience to crises, yet it is not well understood with respect to dementia risk reduction.

Researchers, led by Miharu Nakanishi, PhD, chief researcher at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science in Japan, used data from the British 1946 birth cohort in the Medical Research Council's National Survey of Health and Development. The study included 703 women, whose psychological wellbeing at 52 years old was assessed using the Ryff Scales of Psychological Wellbeing over six dimensions: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Cognitive function at 69 years old was measured using the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination.

After controlling for cognitive ability at eight years, educational attainment by 26 years, occupational attainment and marital status by 53 years, depression, smoking, and physical exercise at 60–64 years, the researchers found there was a significant association between greater personal growth and lower self-acceptance at 52 years, and better cognition at 69 years. However, there was no association between cognition and the other four Ryff scales.

Most aspects of midlife psychological wellbeing, except for personal growth and self-acceptance, were not prospectively associated with cognition. Risk reduction messages should include key recommendations for women in response to the high prevalence of dementia observed in this population, the researchers said.