Research on stress and cognitive aging has primarily focused on examining the effects of biological and psychosocial indicators of stress, with little attention provided to examining the association between perceived stress and cognitive aging. We examined the longitudinal association between global perceived stress (GPS) and cognitive change among 116 older adults (Mage = 80, SD = 6.40, range = 67-96) in a repeated measurement burst design. Bursts of 6 daily cognitive assessments were repeated every 6 months over a 2-year period, with self-reported GPS assessed at the start of every burst. Using a double-exponential learning model, 2 parameters were estimated: (a) asymptotic level (peak performance), and (b) asymptotic change (the rate at which peak performance changed across bursts). We hypothesized that greater GPS would predict slowed performance in tasks of attention, working memory, and speed of processing and that increases in GPS across time would predict cognitive slowing. Results from latent growth curve analyses were consistent with our first hypothesis and indicated that level of GPS predicted cognitive slowing across time. Changes in GPS did not predict cognitive slowing. This study extends previous findings by demonstrating a prospective association between level of GPS and cognitive slowing across a 2-year period, highlighting the role of psychological stress as a risk factor for poor cognitive function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology