|When Culture Influences Genes: Positive Age Beliefs Amplify the Cognitive-Aging Benefit of APOE ϵ2
|Year of Publication
|Levy, BR, Slade, MD, Pietrzak, RH, Ferrucci, L
|The Journals of Gerontology: Series B
|age beliefs, APoE4, Cognition, gene, self-perceptions of aging
Most studies of aging cognition have focused on risk factors for worse performance and on either genetic or environmental factors. In contrast, we examined whether two factors known to individually benefit aging cognition may interact to produce better cognition: environment-based positive age beliefs and the APOE ϵ2 gene.The sample consisted of 3,895 Health and Retirement Study participants who were 60 years or older at baseline and completed as many as 5 assessments of cognition over 8 years.As predicted, positive age beliefs amplified the cognitive benefit of APOE ϵ2. In contrast, negative age beliefs suppressed the cognitive benefit of APOE ϵ2. We also found that positive age beliefs contributed nearly 15 times more than APOE ϵ2 to better cognition.This study provides the first known evidence that self-perceptions can influence the impact of a gene on cognition. The results underscore the importance of combined psychosocial and biological approaches to understanding cognitive function in older adults.