Health and lifestyle factors in predicting cognitive trajectory in ageing women

Ada Lo (2011). Health and lifestyle factors in predicting cognitive trajectory in ageing women PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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s4111326_PhD_finalthesis.pdf PhD thesis-final copy application/pdf 1.77MB 16
Author Ada Lo
Thesis Title Health and lifestyle factors in predicting cognitive trajectory in ageing women
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Nancy Pachana
Gerard Byrne
Perminder Sachdev
Graham Galloway
Richard Woodman
Total pages 189
Total colour pages nil
Total black and white pages 189
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary Ageing is a complex process that is characterized by physiological changes that typically lead to functional decline and increased susceptibility to illness and mortality from certain diseases. As a result of an ageing population the world is confronted with a soaring number of dementia cases. Although there has been an abundance of research examining the neuropathology, physiology, symptomatology and risk factors of dementia, similar research in cognitive ageing has only gained momentum in the last two decades. Given the disability burden of dementia is severe and has significant impact on health care costs, it is, therefore, crucial to identify risk factors, especially those that are modifiable, to prevent or delay cognitive decline and, ultimately, dementia. Despite a growing body of literature on cognitive ageing and risk factors, there has been much inconsistency in the findings to date. Therefore, the primary aim of this thesis is to identify factors that may contribute to successful cognitive ageing by exploring the relationship between several modifiable lifestyle risk factors and cognitive change over time. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to cognitive ageing, ageing theories, risk factors and methodological issues associated with these studies, as well as an overview of the structure and content of the thesis. Chapter 2 is a review paper that evaluates whether there is evidence that engagement in lifestyle risk factors results in cognitive changes and whether a change in lifestyle behaviour is associated with future cognitive performance and cognitive changes. Four potentially modifiable lifestyle behaviours were evaluated: cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, adiposity, and activity engagement. The results were considered by cognitive domain and methodological limitations of the studies were discussed. Chapter 3 describes the overall design of the study. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 involve empirical analyses of the data collected as part of the Longitudinal Assessment of Women (LAW) study, a multidisciplinary study examining the health and well-being in a population sample of community-dwelling women since 2000. Chapter 4 presents an empirical study with three aims: 1) characterize individual trajectories and their variability in each cognitive domain; 2) assess practice effects and factors that may influence practice effects; and 3) identify factors, especially modifiable lifestyle factors, that may predict maintenance of cognitive functioning over seven years. The results highlighted the importance of considering practice effects in estimating age-related cognitive changes and that the magnitude of practice effects varied by cognitive domain. Individual differences in rate of cognitive change were observed in some domains but not others, and an accelerated rate of decline was observed for older women. No lifestyle behaviours were consistent predictors of maintenance across cognitive domains, though non-smoking, moderate consumption of alcohol and stability in weight appeared to have the most potential. Chapter 5 is an empirical study designed to investigate the effects of different adiposity measures, and their impacts on cognitive functioning and cognitive changes. Stability of adiposity was found to be associated with better cognitive functioning than changes in adiposity, though significant associations were observed only between weight and visual memory performance. No significant association between changes in adiposity and cognitive functioning was observed. Chapter 6 is an empirical study designed to investigate the individual and interactive effect of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on cognitive functioning. The results indicated that light drinking may be protective against decline in working memory, but no relationship was found between smoking and cognitive functioning, nor was there an interactive effect between smoking and drinking. Chapter 7 provides a brief summary of the entire thesis, strengths and limitations, and directions for future research. The present studies add to the body of literature investigating the roles of lifestyle risk factors on cognitive ageing. The findings contribute to the literature on potential strategies for maintaining cognitive functioning later in life.
Keyword cognitive functioning
cognitive trajectory
Practice effects
Lifestyle factors
alcohol consumption
activity engagement
Physical Activities
Additional Notes Pages in pdf that should be printed in landscape: p51-68, 91, 93, 122-123,

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Created: Thu, 21 Jul 2011, 18:09:42 EST by Miss Ada Lo on behalf of Library - Information Access Service