Subjective age, depressive symptoms, and cognitive functioning across five domains.

TitleSubjective age, depressive symptoms, and cognitive functioning across five domains.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMorris, EP, Zaheed, AB, Sharifian, N, Sol, K, A Kraal, Z, Zahodne, LB
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
ISSN Number1744-411X
KeywordsCognition, cognitive aging, Depressive symptoms, HCAP, Subjective age

: Younger subjective age predicts better episodic memory and executive functioning performance independent of chronological age. This study examined whether subjective age is associated with performance in five cognitive domains, quantified the extent to which these relationships are mediated by depressive symptoms, and tested whether these associations are moderated by chronological age. Participants in this cross-sectional study included 993 adults aged 65 and older from the Health and Retirement Study's 2016 Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol. Moderated mediation models estimated direct and indirect effects of subjective age on factor scores representing episodic memory, executive functioning, language, visuoconstruction, and speed through depressive symptoms and tested whether associations differed according to chronological age. Depressive symptoms explained 21-32% of the associations between subjective age and language, speed, episodic memory, and executive functioning. Chronological age moderated the indirect effect involving language, such that depressive symptoms were more strongly related to worse language performance at older chronological ages. After accounting for indirect effects, direct effects of younger subjective age remained for language and speed domains. This study extends research on the cognitive correlates of subjective age and demonstrates that depressive symptoms partly mediate these relationships. Subjective age may bemost strongly associated with language among individuals at older chronological ages not because they are more sensitive to the negative mental health impact of feeling older than they are but because they may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of depressive symptoms on language ability. Additional longitudinal research is needed to determine whether links between subjective age and cognition are causal versus predictive.

Citation Key11640
PubMed ID34018454