Social ties and cognitive recovery after stroke: Does social integration promote cognitive resilience?

M. Maria Glymour, Jennifer Weuve, Martha E. Fay, Thomas Glass, Lisa F. Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Little is known about the possible effects of social resources on stroke survivors' level and change in cognitive outcomes. Understanding this association may help us identify strategies to improve stroke recovery and help elucidate the etiology of dementia. Methods: We examined the relationship of social ties and social support to cognitive function and cognitive change 6 months after stroke. Participants in the Families in Recovery from Stroke Trial (FIRST) (n = 272) were interviewed approximately 17 days (baseline) and 6 months (follow-up) after stroke. Cognition was assessed with the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and a summary battery of 7 neuropsychological tests. Median-based regression was used to model cognitive outcomes by level of baseline intimate, personal and organizational social ties and received emotional and instrumental support. Results: Baseline social ties and emotional sup- port independently predicted 6-month Cognitive Summary Scores. Emotional support also predicted greater improvements in Cognitive Summary Scores from baseline to the 6-month follow-up. No other social exposures predicted improvements in the MMSE or the Cognitive Summary. Conclusions: Our results suggest that emotional support may promote cognitive resilience while social ties provide cognitive reserve that protects against impaired cognition after stroke. Social ties did not predict cognitive recovery however, so reverse causation cannot be ruled out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain infarction
  • Causality
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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