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Examination of the bidirectional influences of leisure activity and memory in old people: A dissociative effect on episodic memory

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Abstract

The present study examined the relationships between different types of social and cognitive activities and different types of episodic and semantic memory. A total of 794 adult men and women from five age cohorts (aged 65–85 at baseline), participating in the longitudinal Betula project on ageing, memory, and health, were included in the study. The participants were studied over 10 years (1995–2005) in three waves. Recognition and recall were used as episodic memory tasks, and knowledge and verbal fluency as semantic memory tasks. The results, after controlling for age, gender, education, and some diseases, including heart disease and hypertension, as covariates, showed unidirectional effects of social activity on episodic memory on all test occasions (β = .10). Also, episodic memory predicted change in cognitive activity for all test waves (β = .21–.22). Findings suggest that social activity can be seen as protective factor against memory decline. It also seems that episodic memory performance is a predictor of cognitive activity in old people. However, the opposite direction does not hold true.

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