Loneliness and social isolation are not associated with executive functioning in a cross-sectional study of cognitively healthy older adults

Katelyn S. McVeigh, Matthias R. Mehl, Angelina J. Polsinelli, Suzanne A. Moseley, David A. Sbarra, Elizabeth L Glisky, Matthew D. Grilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The literature on the relationship between social interaction and executive functions (EF) in older age is mixed, perhaps stemming from differences in EF measures and the conceptualization/measurement of social interaction. We investigated the relationship between social interaction and EF in 102 cognitively unimpaired older adults (ages 65–90). Participants received an EF battery to measure working memory, inhibition, shifting, and global EF. We measured loneliness subjectively through survey and social isolation objectively through naturalistic observation. Loneliness was not significantly related to any EF measure (p-values =.13–.65), nor was social isolation (p-values =.11–.69). Bayes factors indicated moderate to extremely strong evidence (BF 01 = 8.70 to BF 01 = 119.49) in support of no relationship. Overall, these findings suggest that, among cognitively healthy older adults, there may not be a robust cross-sectional relationship between EF and subjective loneliness or objective social isolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Loneliness
  • cross-sectional
  • executive functioning
  • older adults
  • social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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