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  • Writer's pictureNancy Griffin

Yale Study Shows Positive Age Beliefs Contribute to Recovery from Mild Cognitive Impairment

Findings suggest that age-belief interventions at individual and societal levels could increase the number of people who experience cognitive recovery.


A new study from the Yale School of Public Health, Role of Positive Age Beliefs in Recovery From Mild Cognitive Impairment Among Older Persons, finds positive age beliefs contribute to recovery from mild cognitive impairment. This study is the first to consider whether a culture based factor—positive age beliefs—contributes to MCI recovery.


In previous experimental studies with older persons, positive age beliefs reduced stress caused by cognitive challenges, increased self-confidence about cognition, and improved cognitive performance.


The Yale study hypothesized that older persons with positive age beliefs would be more likely to recover from MCI and would do so sooner compared with individuals with negative age beliefs. Additionally, among participants with normal cognition, those with positive age beliefs were significantly less likely to develop MCI over the following 12 years compared with those with negative age beliefs.


It is widely assumed that individuals who develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) will not recover. Yet nearly half of older persons with MCI regain normal cognition. Among participants with normal cognition or MCI at baseline, those with positive age beliefs had lower MCI prevalence compared with those with negative age beliefs. The positive age-belief group had a 30.2% greater likelihood of recovery than the negative age-belief group and reached a 2-year recovery advantage over the negative age-belief group.


The findings of this study suggest the importance of considering the role of culture, expressed here through age beliefs, in MCI development and reversal. A limitation is that we did not examine the mechanism of positive age beliefs in cognitive recovery. However, previous studies have reported that cognition is predicted by stress levels and health behaviors, both of which can be improved by positive age beliefs. Considering that positive age beliefs can be strengthened, our findings suggest that age-belief interventions at individual and societal levels could increase the number of people who experience cognitive recovery.

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