Mechanisms of age-related cognitive change and targets for intervention: Social interactions and stress

William S. Kremen, Margie E. Lachman, Jens C. Pruessner, Martin Sliwinski, Robert S. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background. The effects of biological and physical factors on cognitive aging are widely studied. Less is known about the role of psychosocial factors such as stress and social relationships for cognitive functioning.Methods. Speakers in Session IV of the Summit focused on possible mechanisms linking social interactions and stressful experiences to cognitive changes with aging.Results.Elevated cortisol, repetitive thinking, negative emotions, neuroticism, chronic stress, and early life adversity were negatively associated with memory and other cognitive dimensions in later life. In contrast, supportive social relationships were found to be positively related to cognitive functioning. Some evidence was provided for multidirectional, causal relationships involving stress and negative affect as both antecedents and consequences of cognitive decline.Conclusions.The findings contribute to understanding the potential underlying causal processes linking psychosocial factors and cognitive aging with a developmental focus on the etiology of declines and onset of cognitive impairments. This work provides an important foundation for future research to identify modifiable factors and to design interventions to minimize cognitive declines and optimize cognitive health in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-765
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume67 A
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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