Associations between social network components and cognitive domains in older adults.

TitleAssociations between social network components and cognitive domains in older adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsMeister, L, Zahodne, LB
JournalPsychology & Aging
ISSN Number1939-1498
KeywordsCognition, social network

Previous research shows that social network components are associated with cognitive function later in life. However, fewer studies consider different cognitive domains or disaggregate the social network by relationship type. Using data from 2,553 participants aged 65 or older in the Health and Retirement Study's Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol, this study examined relationships between social network structure (i.e., size, contact frequency) and quality (i.e., support, strain) and performance in five cognitive domains (i.e., episodic memory, executive function, visuoconstruction, language, and processing speed) 2-4 years later, controlling for sociodemographics and previous global cognition. Separate linear regressions were conducted for each cognitive outcome. When averaged across relationship types, network size was not associated with any domain. Contact frequency was positively associated with all domains except episodic memory. Support and strain were negatively associated with all cognitive domains. When considering individual relationship types, larger friend networks were positively associated with visuoconstruction, and greater contact frequency with friends was positively associated with all cognitive domains. Larger family networks were associated with worse executive function, visuoconstruction, and speed. Strain from friends had a negative relationship with every domain except episodic memory. Support from family was negatively associated with episodic memory, executive function, and language. These associations were equivalent to one to 3.5 years of cognitive aging. These results showed that both social network structure and quality may be consequential for cognitive functioning and that links between social relations and cognition differ across domains and as a function of relationship type. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Citation Key12150
PubMed ID34968104
Grant List / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States