Cognitive Diversity in a Healthy Aging Cohort: Cross-Domain Cognition in the Cam-CAN Project

J Aging Health. 2020 Oct;32(9):1029-1041. doi: 10.1177/0898264319878095. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Objective: Studies of "healthy" cognitive aging often focus on a limited set of measures that decline with age. The current study argues that defining and supporting healthy cognition requires understanding diverse cognitive performance across the lifespan. Method: Data from the Cambridge Centre for Aging and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) cohort was examined across a range of cognitive domains. Performance was related to lifestyle including education, social engagement, and enrichment activities. Results: Results indicate variable relationships between cognition and age (positive, negative, or no relationship). Principal components analysis indicated maintained cognitive diversity across the adult lifespan, and that cognition-lifestyle relationships differed by age and domain. Discussion: Our findings support a view of normal cognitive aging as a lifelong developmental process with diverse relationships between cognition, lifestyle, and age. This reinforces the need for large-scale studies of cognitive aging to include a wider range of both ages and cognitive tasks.

Keywords: cognitive function; cognitive reserve; healthy aging; lifestyle; principal components analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Aging*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Participation
  • Young Adult