The Effects of an Engaged Lifestyle on Cognitive Vitality: A Field Experiment

Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow, Jeanine M. Parisi, Daniel G. Morrow, Denise C. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Experimental studies on cognitive training have suggested that the effects of experience are narrow in augmenting or maintaining cognitive abilities, while correlational studies report a wide range of benefits of an engaged lifestyle, including increased longevity, resistance to dementia, and enhanced cognitive flexibility. The latter class of evidence is ambiguous because it is possible that it is simply the case that those with relatively better cognitive vitality seek out and maintain a wider range of activities. The authors report data from a field experiment in which older adults were randomly assigned to participate in a program intended to operationalize an engaged lifestyle, built on a team-based competition in ill-defined problem solving. Relative to controls, experimental participants showed positive change in a composite measure of fluid ability from pretest to posttest. This study, thus, provides experimental evidence for the proposition that engagement, in the absence of specific ability training, can mitigate age-related cognitive declines in fluid ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-786
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology and aging
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cognitive aging
  • cognitive intervention
  • engagement
  • mental exercise
  • use it or lose it

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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