Super-cognition in aging: Cognitive profiles and associated lifestyle factors

Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2020 Nov-Dec;27(6):497-503. doi: 10.1080/23279095.2019.1570928. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


Previous research on older adults with superior cognitive abilities (super-cognition) has typically examined cognition using a single domain approach, which may not adequately capture the multidimensional nature of successful cognitive aging. Furthermore, the lifestyle factors associated with super-cognition have not been studied adequately. The current study examined the cognitive profiles and lifestyle factors associated with super-cognition. Community-dwelling older adults (N = 693) were administered neuropsychological tests and self-reported measures of lifestyle factors at midlife (retrospectively recalled). Then, using an a priori set of criteria, we classified them as super-cognition or normal. A latent class analysis was conducted to examine the different cognitive profiles of super-cognition, and both groups were compared on their lifestyle-related outcomes. A total of 64 and 263 participants met the criteria for super-cognition and normal participants respectively. A three-class solution best described super-cognition among our participants. Approximately half of them had superior immediate memory; two other smaller groups of participants with super-cognition had superior attention, language, and visuospatial abilities. Participants with super-cognition reported less participation in social activities and, frequently, working more than 9 hours/day and feeling stressed, at midlife. Super-cognition among the elderly is associated with having a busier, more socially-isolated and stressful midlife.

Keywords: Aging; RBANS; latent class analysis; lifestyle; neuropsychology; successful cognitive aging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Aging / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Language
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Sleep
  • Social Participation*
  • Spatial Processing
  • Stress, Psychological*