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Cognitive function in childhood and lifetime cognitive change in relation to mental wellbeing in four cohorts of older people

Cognitive function in childhood and lifetime cognitive change in relation to mental wellbeing in four cohorts of older people
Cognitive function in childhood and lifetime cognitive change in relation to mental wellbeing in four cohorts of older people
Background: poorer cognitive ability in youth is a risk factor for later mental health problems but it is largely unknown whether cognitive ability, in youth or in later life, is predictive of mental wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether cognitive ability at age 11 years, cognitive ability in later life, or lifetime cognitive change are associated with mental wellbeing in older people.

Methods: we used data on 8191 men and women aged 50 to 87 years from four cohorts in the HALCyon collaborative research programme into healthy ageing: the Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936, the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921, the National Child Development Survey, and the MRC National Survey for Health and Development. We used linear regression to examine associations between cognitive ability at age 11, cognitive ability in later life, and lifetime change in cognitive ability and mean score on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and meta-analysis to obtain an overall estimate of the effect of each.

Results: people whose cognitive ability at age 11 was a standard deviation above the mean scored 0.53 points higher on the mental wellbeing scale (95% confidence interval 0.36, 0.71). The equivalent value for cognitive ability in later life was 0.89 points (0.72, 1.07). A standard deviation improvement in cognitive ability in later life relative to childhood ability was associated with 0.66 points (0.39, 0.93) advantage in wellbeing score. These effect sizes equate to around 0.1 of a standard deviation in mental wellbeing score. Adjustment for potential confounding and mediating variables, primarily the personality trait neuroticism, substantially attenuated these associations.

Conclusion: associations between cognitive ability in childhood or lifetime cognitive change and mental wellbeing in older people are slight and may be confounded by personality trait differences
1932-6203
e44860
Gale, Catharine R.
5bb2abb3-7b53-42d6-8aa7-817e193140c8
Cooper, Rachel
24a4a55a-ccc1-4961-9b76-b89aa4eb2fdf
Craig, Leone
ebc2fd1d-9230-4195-8e29-63424436d840
Elliott, Jane
7797aa8c-2fe3-44d3-bfcd-d207ded2d228
Kuh, Diana
4f3b51aa-21a0-4d68-be14-e1ed75448aaf
Richards, Marcus
2b9b29a0-09dc-40fc-b46f-83a5d639695f
Starr, John M.
92fc6cf8-b0f7-47dc-93d8-8fd246d40585
Whalley, Lawrence J.
bf292f06-d800-4808-b589-df748448bb1b
Deary, Ian J.
027158ae-fbfb-40ea-98b1-32d2690499ac
Gale, Catharine R.
5bb2abb3-7b53-42d6-8aa7-817e193140c8
Cooper, Rachel
24a4a55a-ccc1-4961-9b76-b89aa4eb2fdf
Craig, Leone
ebc2fd1d-9230-4195-8e29-63424436d840
Elliott, Jane
7797aa8c-2fe3-44d3-bfcd-d207ded2d228
Kuh, Diana
4f3b51aa-21a0-4d68-be14-e1ed75448aaf
Richards, Marcus
2b9b29a0-09dc-40fc-b46f-83a5d639695f
Starr, John M.
92fc6cf8-b0f7-47dc-93d8-8fd246d40585
Whalley, Lawrence J.
bf292f06-d800-4808-b589-df748448bb1b
Deary, Ian J.
027158ae-fbfb-40ea-98b1-32d2690499ac

Gale, Catharine R., Cooper, Rachel, Craig, Leone, Elliott, Jane, Kuh, Diana, Richards, Marcus, Starr, John M., Whalley, Lawrence J. and Deary, Ian J. (2012) Cognitive function in childhood and lifetime cognitive change in relation to mental wellbeing in four cohorts of older people. PLoS ONE, 7 (9), e44860. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044860). (PMID:22970320)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: poorer cognitive ability in youth is a risk factor for later mental health problems but it is largely unknown whether cognitive ability, in youth or in later life, is predictive of mental wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether cognitive ability at age 11 years, cognitive ability in later life, or lifetime cognitive change are associated with mental wellbeing in older people.

Methods: we used data on 8191 men and women aged 50 to 87 years from four cohorts in the HALCyon collaborative research programme into healthy ageing: the Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936, the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921, the National Child Development Survey, and the MRC National Survey for Health and Development. We used linear regression to examine associations between cognitive ability at age 11, cognitive ability in later life, and lifetime change in cognitive ability and mean score on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and meta-analysis to obtain an overall estimate of the effect of each.

Results: people whose cognitive ability at age 11 was a standard deviation above the mean scored 0.53 points higher on the mental wellbeing scale (95% confidence interval 0.36, 0.71). The equivalent value for cognitive ability in later life was 0.89 points (0.72, 1.07). A standard deviation improvement in cognitive ability in later life relative to childhood ability was associated with 0.66 points (0.39, 0.93) advantage in wellbeing score. These effect sizes equate to around 0.1 of a standard deviation in mental wellbeing score. Adjustment for potential confounding and mediating variables, primarily the personality trait neuroticism, substantially attenuated these associations.

Conclusion: associations between cognitive ability in childhood or lifetime cognitive change and mental wellbeing in older people are slight and may be confounded by personality trait differences

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Published date: September 2012
Organisations: Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 346627
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346627
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 704e9979-26c6-45f4-abfb-9838d65ad6aa
ORCID for Catharine R. Gale: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3361-8638

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Date deposited: 04 Jan 2013 11:09
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:44

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