Social Network Characteristics and Cognition in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 12/2004; 59(6):P278-84. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/59.6.P278
Source: PubMed


We examined the relationship between social network characteristics and global cognitive status in a community-based sample of 354 adults aged 50+ and with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores of 28+ at baseline. Multivariate analyses indicated that interaction in larger social networks related to better maintenance of MMSE scores and reduced odds of decline to population-based lower quartile MMSE scores at follow-up 12 years later. At follow-up, higher levels of interpersonal activity (more frequent contacts in larger social networks) and exposure to emotional support independently related positively to MMSE. The findings suggest that interaction in larger social networks is a marker that portends less cognitive decline, and that distinct associational paths link interpersonal activity and emotional support to cognitive function.

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Available from: George W Rebok, Jan 11, 2016
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    • " Also Bosma et al . ( 2003 ) showed that lower education and little cognitively stimulating jobs contributed to a higher cognitive decline . Beyond education and activity , other variables have been associated with cognitive functioning . Specifically , elderly receiving more social support ( Bourne et al . , 2010 ) , with larger social networks ( Holtzman et al . , 2004 ; Green et al . , 2008 ) and married ( van Gelder et al . , 2006 ; Karlamangla et al . , 2009 ) had lower cognitive decline . In this study , beyond the 26% of variability in cognitive performance explained by age and education , household and neighborhood indicators , namely outdoor mobility increases the explained variability to 30% , "
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    • "Sustaining an active lifestyle, and consequently using cognitive mechanisms, protects against cognitive decline and dementia [7] [8] [9] [10]. Social engagement may be viewed from this perspective as a form of everyday activity that is cognitively stimulating [11]. There have been numerous studies illustrating the effect of social engagement on cognition in ageing. "
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    • "As a result, indices of network structure typically conflate different types of social relationships e so that they fail to differentiate between the effects of individual, or one-on-one, engagement (i.e., with other well-known individuals; e.g., a spouse, child, friend or relative) and the effects of engagement with broader social groups (e.g., one's wider family, recreational clubs, voluntary and church groups). Moreover, the majority of studies tend to place greater emphasis on the former (e.g., see Bennett et al., 2006; Crooks et al., 2008; Ertel et al., 2008; Fratiglioni et al., 2000; Giles et al., 2012; Green et al., 2008; Holtzman et al., 2004). Indeed, where group engagement is measured, the data tends to be coded for its presence or absence and treated as an equivalent construct to engagement with individuals , often resulting in the two constructs being collapsed into a single social network index (Barnes et al., 2004; Bassuk et al., 1999; Seeman et al., 2001; Zunzenugui et al., 2003). "
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