Urbanisation and cognitive ageing: an investigation of geographical variations in the cognitive health of older adults in Ireland

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dc.contributor.advisor Setti, Annalisa en
dc.contributor.advisor McCarthy, John C. en
dc.contributor.author Cassarino, Marica
dc.date.accessioned 2017-05-23T11:06:40Z
dc.date.available 2017-05-23T11:06:40Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.date.submitted 2017
dc.identifier.citation Cassarino, M. 2017. Urbanisation and cognitive ageing: an investigation of geographical variations in the cognitive health of older adults in Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork. en
dc.identifier.endpage 349 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/4015
dc.description.abstract Ageing and urbanisation worldwide, and the increasing risk of chronic conditions such dementia and cognitive impairment with higher life expectancy, urge to understand the impact of city or rural living on healthy cognitive ageing. Based on the premise that environmental features influence cognition, my doctoral project investigated whether different levels of urbanisation supported specific cognitive skills in older age. Firstly, a thorough review of the literature identified environmental characteristics (e.g. urban vs. rural living, perceptual load caused by traffic or noise, presence of green) which could “train” the brain to maintain efficiency and age well. We proposed the concept of complexity to operationalise and measure the dynamic set of physical factors (encompassing a macro, meso and micro level of analysis) that make the lived environment optimally stimulating for cognitive functioning, and which could therefore be key contributors to cognitive-friendly environments. Using data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), the PhD project investigated macro (urban-rural living) and meso level (population density and accessibility to urban environments) geographical variations in multiple cognitive domains for approximately 5,000 healthy community-dwelling people age 50+, to test the hypothesis that in Ireland higher urbanisation (i.e., higher environmental complexity) would be associated with better performance. We found a positive association (cross-sectionally, but not longitudinally) between urbanisation and executive functions, a key cognitive skill to interact with the environment, in line with our hypothesis. Healthy lifestyles moderated geographical variations in global cognition, in line with research on cognitive reserve. This PhD research provides new evidence on the specific cognitive skills amenable to environmental influences, namely executive functions, and stimulates future work to identify neighbourhood characteristics which can ‘train’ executive functions in older age, with implications for the design of usable and cognitively stimulating places for older people. en
dc.description.sponsorship University College Cork (Strategic Research Fund) en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher University College Cork en
dc.rights © 2017, Marica Cassarino. en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ en
dc.subject Cognitive ageing en
dc.subject Urbanisation en
dc.subject Age-friendly environments en
dc.subject Executive functions en
dc.title Urbanisation and cognitive ageing: an investigation of geographical variations in the cognitive health of older adults in Ireland en
dc.type Doctoral thesis en
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral Degree (Structured) en
dc.type.qualificationname PhD (Arts) en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.check.info No embargo required en
dc.description.version Accepted Version
dc.contributor.funder University College Cork en
dc.description.status Not peer reviewed en
dc.internal.school Applied Psychology en
dc.check.type No Embargo Required
dc.check.reason No embargo required en
dc.check.opt-out No en
dc.thesis.opt-out false
dc.check.embargoformat Not applicable en
ucc.workflow.supervisor a.setti@ucc.ie
dc.internal.conferring Summer 2017 en


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© 2017, Marica Cassarino. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2017, Marica Cassarino.
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