Aims: The present study set out to investigate the relation of psychological stress to cognitive performance and its interplay with key life course markers of cognitive reserve and social capital in a large sample of older adults. Methods: We assessed cognitive performance (verbal abilities and processing speed) and psychological stress in 2,812 older adults. The Participants reported information on education, occupation, leisure activities, family, and close friends. Results: Greater psychological stress was significantly related to lower performance in verbal abilities and processing speed. Moderation analyses suggested that the relations of psychological stress to cognitive performance were reduced in individuals with higher education, a higher cognitive level of the first profession practiced after education, a larger number of midlife leisure activities, a larger number of significant family members, and a larger number of close friends. Conclusion: Cognitive reserve and social capital accrued in early and midlife may reduce the detrimental influences of psychological stress on cognitive functioning in old age.

1.
Ihle A, Gouveia ÉR, Gouveia BR, Kliegel M: The Cognitive Telephone Screening Instrument (COGTEL): a brief, reliable, and valid tool for capturing interindividual differences in cognitive functioning in epidemiological and aging studies. Dement Geriatr Cogn Dis Extra 2017; 7: 339–345.
2.
Ihle A, Gouveia ÉR, Gouveia BR, Freitas DL, Jurema J, Tinôco MA, Kliegel M: High-density lipoprotein cholesterol level relates to working memory, immediate and delayed cued recall in Brazilian older adults: the role of cognitive reserve. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2017; 44: 84–91.
3.
Stern Y: Cognitive reserve. Neuropsychologia 2009; 47: 2015–2028.
4.
Stern Y: Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol 2012; 11: 1006–1012.
5.
Bonsang E, Adam S, Perelman S: Does retirement affect cognitive functioning? J Health Econ 2012; 31: 490–501.
6.
Schneeweis N, Skirbekk V, Winter-Ebmer R: Does education improve cognitive performance four decades after school completion? Demography 2014; 51: 619–643.
7.
Newson RS, Kemps EB: General lifestyle activities as a predictor of current cognition and cognitive change in older adults: a cross-sectional and longitudinal examination. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2005; 60: 113–120.
8.
Liao YC, Liu RS, Teng EL, Lee YC, Wang PN, Lin KN, Chung CP, Liu HC: Cognitive reserve: a SPECT study of 132 Alzheimer’s disease patients with an education range of 0–19 years. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2005; 20: 8–14.
9.
Rolstad S, Nordlund A, Eckerstrom C, Gustavsson MH, Zetterberg H, Wallin A: Biomarkers in relation to cognitive reserve in patients with mild cognitive impairment – proof of concept. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2009; 27: 194–200.
10.
Borroni B, Premi E, Agosti C, Alberici A, Garibotto V, Bellelli G, Paghera B, Lucchini S, Giubbini R, Perani D, Padovani A: Revisiting brain reserve hypothesis in frontotemporal dementia: evidence from a brain perfusion study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2009; 28: 130–135.
11.
Karp A, Paillard-Borg S, Wang HX, Silverstein M, Winblad B, Fratiglioni L: Mental, physical and social components in leisure activities equally contribute to decrease dementia risk. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2006; 21: 65–73.
12.
Ihle A, Mons U, Perna L, Oris M, Fagot D, Gabriel R, Kliegel M: The relation of obesity to performance in verbal abilities, processing speed, and cognitive flexibility in old age: the role of cognitive reserve. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2016; 42: 117–126.
13.
Ihle A, Oris M, Fagot D, Baeriswyl M, Guichard E, Kliegel M: The association of leisure activities in middle adulthood with cognitive performance in old age: the moderating role of educational level. Gerontology 2015; 61: 543–550.
14.
Ihle A, Oris M, Fagot D, Maggiori C, Kliegel M: The association of educational attainment, cognitive level of job, and leisure activities during the course of adulthood with cognitive performance in old age: the role of openness to experience. Int Psychogeriatr 2016; 28: 733–740.
15.
Ihle A, Oris M, Fagot D, Kliegel M: The relation of the number of languages spoken to performance in different cognitive abilities in old age. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2016; 38: 1103–1114.
16.
Hertzog C, Kramer AF, Wilson RS, Lindenberger U: Enrichment effects on adult cognitive development: can the functional capacity of older adults be preserved and enhanced? Psychol Sci Public Interest 2008; 9: 1–65.
17.
Opdebeeck C, Martyr A, Clare L: Cognitive reserve and cognitive function in healthy older people: a meta-analysis. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn 2016; 23: 40–60.
18.
Girardin M, Widmer E: Lay definitions of family and social capital in later life. Pers Relatsh 2015; 22: 712–737.
19.
Bourdieu P: The forms of capital; in Richardson JG (ed): Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York, Greenwood Press, 1985, pp 241–258.
20.
Barnes LL, de Leon CFM, Wilson RS, Bienias JL, Evans DA: Social resources and cognitive decline in a population of older African Americans and whites. Neurology 2004; 63: 2322–2326.
21.
Bennett DA, Schneider JA, Tang Y, Arnold SE, Wilson RS: The effect of social networks on the relation between Alzheimer’s disease pathology and level of cognitive function in old people: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Neurol 2006; 5: 406–412.
22.
Crooks VC, Lubben J, Petitti DB, Little D, Chiu V: Social network, cognitive function, and dementia incidence among elderly women. Am J Public Health 2008; 98: 1221–1227.
23.
Ellwardt L, Van Tilburg TG, Aartsen MJ: The mix matters: complex personal networks relate to higher cognitive functioning in old age. Soc Sci Med 2015; 125: 107–115.
24.
Ho CY: The Relationship from friendship links to educational achievement. B E J Econom Anal Policy 2016; 16: 1563–1572.
25.
Kimura D, Takeda T, Ohura T, Imai A: Evaluation of facilitative factors for preventing cognitive decline: a 3-year cohort study of community intervention. Psychogeriatrics 2017; 17: 9–16.
26.
Wang BY, He P, Dong BR: Associations between social networks, social contacts, and cognitive function among Chinese nonagenarians/centenarians. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2015; 60: 522–527.
27.
Spini D, Bernardi L, Oris M: Toward a life course framework for studying vulnerability. Res Hum Dev 2017; 14: 5–25.
28.
Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C: Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci 2009; 10: 434–445.
29.
Liston C, McEwen BS, Casey BJ: Psychosocial stress reversibly disrupts prefrontal processing and attentional control. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009; 106: 912–917.
30.
Oei NYL, Everaerd WTAM, Elzinga BM, Van Well S, Bermond B: Psychosocial stress impairs working memory at high loads: an association with cortisol levels and memory retrieval. Stress 2006; 9: 133–141.
31.
Qin SZ, Hermans EJ, van Marle HJF, Luo J, Fernandez G: Acute psychological stress reduces working memory-related activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Biol Psychiatry 2009; 66: 25–32.
32.
Korten NCM, Comijs HC, Penninx BWJH, Deeg DJH: Perceived stress and cognitive function in older adults: which aspect of perceived stress is important? Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2017; 32: 439–445.
33.
Turner AD, James BD, Capuano AW, Aggarwal NT, Barnes LL: Perceived stress and cognitive decline in different cognitive domains in a cohort of older African Americans. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2017; 25: 25–34.
34.
Eskildsen A, Fentz HN, Andersen LP, Pedersen AD, Kristensen SB, Andersen JH: Perceived stress, disturbed sleep, and cognitive impairments in patients with work-related stress complaints: a longitudinal study. Stress 2017; 20: 371–378.
35.
Plantinga L, Lim SS, Bowling CB, Drenkard C: Perceived stress and reported cognitive symptoms among Georgia patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus 2017; 26: 1064–1071.
36.
Ihle A, Gouveia ÉR, Gouveia BR, Freitas DL, Jurema J, Machado FT, Kliegel M: The relation of hypertension to performance in immediate and delayed cued recall and working memory in old age: the role of cognitive reserve. J Aging Health 2017; Epub ahead of print.
37.
Pertl MM, Hannigan C, Brennan S, Robertson IH, Lawlor BA: Cognitive reserve and self-efficacy as moderators of the relationship between stress exposure and executive functioning among spousal dementia caregivers. Int Psychogeriatr 2017; 29: 615–625.
38.
Deltour J: Echelle de vocabulaire Mill Hill de JC Raven [Raven Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale]. Braine-le Chateau, Editions l’Application des Techniques Modernes, 1993.
39.
Reitan RM: Validity of the trail making test as an indicator of organic brain damage. Percept Mot Skills 1958; 8: 271–276.
40.
Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R: A Global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav 1983; 24: 385–396.
41.
Gabriel R, Oris M, Studer M, Baeriswyl M: The persistence of social stratification? A life course perspective on old-age poverty in Switzerland. Swiss J Sociol 2015; 41: 465–487.
42.
Nucci M, Mapelli D, Mondini S: Cognitive Reserve Index questionnaire (CRIq): a new instrument for measuring cognitive reserve. Aging Clin Exp Res 2012; 24: 218–226.
43.
Widmer E, Aeby G, Sapin M: Collecting family network data. Int Rev Sociol 2013; 23: 27–46.
44.
Preacher KJ, Curran PJ, Bauer DJ: Computational tools for probing interactions in multiple linear regression, multilevel modeling, and latent curve analysis. J Educ Behav Stat 2006; 31: 437–448.
45.
Huxhold O, Miche M, Schuz B: Benefits of having friends in older ages: differential effects of informal social activities on well-being in middle-aged and older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2014; 69: 366–375.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.