Psychology could make important contributions to cognitive aging and dementia prevention research

Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) published a new editorial paper in Volume 15, Issue 4, entitled, "Cognitive aging and dementia prevention: the time for psychology?"

Modifiable risk and protective factors (e.g. engaging in active lifestyles and avoiding alcohol or smoking amongst others) are seen as key agents for dementia prevention, and they also exert an important effect on cognitive trajectories of non-demented older adults. In this new editorial, researchers David Bartrés-Faz, Cristina Solé-Padullés and Natalie L. Marchant from the University of Barcelona discuss recent research that has begun to identify psychological processes that confer relative risk and protection.

"For example, repetitive negative thinking (RNT), a cognitive process defined by selfrelevant, persistent thoughts that elaborate on negative themes, has been associated with greater burden of typical Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathological brain markers and accelerated cognitive decline over time ."

In contrast, self-reflection, as well as purpose in life and other components of psychological well being, may help to maintain cognition and boost cognitive resilience against neuropathological burden. The possibility of incorporating psychological elements as key players in affecting one of the most important public health issues of the century opens a window of great therapeutic opportunity, particularly because fundamental psychological processes are at the core of cognitive-behavioral interventions that may help reduce dementia risk. However, for this emergent area to develop and wield maximum benefit, major unanswered questions need to be addressed. In their editorial, the researchers highlight three main areas for future research.

"In summary, we propose that with momentum gathering, now is the time for psychology to make important contributions to cognitive aging and dementia prevention research."

Journal reference:

Bartrés-Faz, D., et al. (2023) Cognitive aging and dementia prevention: the time for psychology?. Aging-US.


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