Social network characteristics and cognition in middle-aged and older adults

Ronald E. Holtzman, George W. Rebok, Jane S. Saczynski, Anthony C. Kouzis, Kathryn Wilcox Doyle, William W. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


We examined the relationship between social network characteristics and global cognitive status in a community-based sample of 354 adults aged 50+ and with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores of 28+ at baseline. Multivariate analyses indicated that interaction in larger social networks related to better maintenance of MMSE scores and reduced odds of decline to population-based lower quartile MMSE scores at follow-up 12 years later. At follow-up, higher levels of interpersonal activity (more frequent contacts in larger social networks) and exposure to emotional support independently related positively to MMSE. The findings suggest that interaction in larger social networks is a marker that portends less cognitive decline, and that distinct associational paths link interpersonal activity and emotional support to cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P278-P284
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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