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Individual pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation - a fine-grained lifespan perspective

English title Individual pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation - a fine-grained lifespan perspective
Applicant Ihle Andreas
Number 189407
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Centre Interfacultaire de Gérontologie et d'Études des Vulnérabilités (CIGEV) Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.06.2020 - 31.03.2022
Approved amount 163'351.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Sociology

Keywords (3)

cognitive reserve; cognitive aging; well-being

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Erhaltung geistiger Gesundheit und damit verbundenem Wohlbefinden im hohen und sehr hohen Lebensalter ist eine der bedeutsamsten Herausforderungen für unsere Gesellschaft.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Einer der in diesem Zusammenhang als ausschlaggebend erachteten Faktoren ist die sogenannte „kognitive Reserve“. Theorievorstösse und erste wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen legen nahe, dass Menschen, die über ihr Leben hinweg eine grössere kognitive Reserve mithilfe kognitiv stimulierender Tätigkeiten (wie zum Beispiel Schulbildung sowie berufliche und Freizeitaktivitäten) aufgebaut haben, wird es später im Leben leichter fallen, ihre geistige Gesundheit bei fortschreitenden kognitiven Alterungsprozessen zu erhalten. Jedoch blieben in der bisherigen Forschung zum Aufbau der kognitiven Reserve die Besonderheiten individueller Lebensverläufe in vielerlei Hinsicht weitestgehend unberücksichtigt. Das Ziel unseres Projektes ist, das Hauptaugenmerk auf die persönlichen Lebensverläufe und deren Verknüpfung mit dem individuellen Aufbau kognitiver Reserve über die Lebensspanne zu richten. Beispielsweise werden wir untersuchen, wie genau verschiedene Lebensereignisse in der persönlichen Lebensgeschichte (wie zum Beispiel Eheschliessung, Geburt von Kindern, Scheidung, Erkrankungen und Unfälle, etc.) sowie Kontextfaktoren (wie zum Beispiel demographische, ökonomische und gesellschaftliche Gegebenheiten, unter denen ein Mensch aufwächst und sein Erwachsenenalter verbringt) den individuellen Aufbau kognitiver Reserve während des Lebensverlaufes beeinflussen.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Die Untersuchung dieser Zusammenhänge wird helfen, Besonderheiten hinsichtlich der persönlichen Entwicklung von geistiger Gesundheit und damit verbundenem Wohlbefinden im Alter besser zu verstehen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 14.01.2020

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Abstract

The demographic changes, with more and more adults attaining older ages, but, at the same time, also an increase of people suffering from cognitive impairments and thereby diminished well-being in advanced age constitute one of the biggest challenges in this century for our society. With respect to the preservation of cognitive functioning, the cognitive reserve concept (Stern, 2002, 2017) postulates that early and lifelong experiences, including educational and occupational attainment, and leisure activities throughout the lifespan, promote cognitive health in old age. Yet, research addressing different aspects of inter-individual difference characteristics as potential moderators in the lifelong accumulation of cognitive reserve is still in its infancy. It is indispensable to take up a fine-grained lifespan perspective to understand in depth the interplay of the detailed pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation in different domains during the entire lifespan with the multifarious idiosyncratic life events and the contextual environments in the different life phases during the individual’s history. To address this fundamental open issue in cognitive aging research, in three subprojects this research project will exploit available large-scale longitudinal interdisciplinary datasets using advanced modeling techniques such as sequence analyses, latent transition analyses, multilevel growth curve models, and dynamic structural equation modeling approaches. Specifically, in subproject A we will investigate inter-individual differences in the pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation over the entire lifespan from early childhood to very old age. The specific focus is to disentangle the differential contributions of different domains of stimulation (education, non-formal intellectual activities, physical activities, and social activities) from the different life phases of cognitive reserve build-up (early and late childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, early and late midlife, late and very late adulthood). In subproject B we will examine how idiosyncratic non-normative life event periods in the individual’s life history influence in detail the pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation. A detailed focus will be taken on differential effects depending on the specific life phase in which the respective event period might affect individual trajectories. In subproject C we will investigate how contextual factors, such as demographic, economic, and societal characteristics of the surrounding environments in which an individual grew up and spent his or her adulthood, influence in detail the pathways of cognitive reserve accumulation. A special focus will be given on differential effects depending on the contextual level (country versus federal state / region versus neighborhood) and depending on the specific life phase in which the respective environment might affect individual trajectories. In all three subprojects we will investigate how in detail these differential patterns of the individual’s cognitive reserve accumulation pathways influence the subsequent aging trajectories in cognitive functioning and well-being in old age. The present interdisciplinary proposal has enormous conceptual significance as it will help to refine current models of cognitive reserve in particular and gerontological research in general. Moreover, as the present project will help to better understand the multifaceted mechanisms throughout the individual’s life underlying inter-individual differences in the fine-grained aging trajectories in cognitive health and well-being, it will be of highest significance for social prevention policies and may lay the ground for designing evidence-based intervention programs for our aging population.
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