The impact of Age, Gender and Marital Status on Age-Associated Cognitive Decline

Katerine-Ann MacKinnon-Lee*, Mark Bahr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Age-associated cognitive decline is a normal, non-pathological and inevitable human occurrence. Therefore, it remains a research priority to assess the role of certain protective factors, such as age, gender, and marital status, that influence age-associated cognitive decline to intervene in the stemming of its progress and guide theory, policy, and practice. The study used a dissociative paradigm, using two measures to assess both short-term and
visuo-spatial memory, to clarify the unestablished results of whether cognitive ageing occurs in one subsystem (i.e., modular) or across the whole brain (i.e., generalised). Participants (N = 126; 79 females and 46 males) from Sydney, New South Wales were recruited and divided into three age groups: 18 - 27, 27 - 62, and 62+. Participants completed an online questionnaire, with computer administered tasks, assessing visuo-spatial and short-term memory. A Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) revealed no significant covariate effects; covariates entered included participants’ total scores from psychometrically established measures addressing engagement with social networks, depressive symptomology, personal wellbeing, and resilience. Consistent with previous findings, results from a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) supported the notion that being married is a protective factor in slowing down the progression of age-associated cognitive decline (i.e., visuo-spatial memory), in comparison to being single or in a de facto relationship. Older adults who were married performed lower on visuo-spatial memory tasks than younger adults. Support for the generalised model of ageing was revealed. Future directions and implications of the study’s findings indicate the need to maximise protective interventions for those who are single or in a de facto relationship, and the brain as a whole system, to prevent unwarranted cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1283
Number of pages48
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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