Study Finds that Viewing Aging in a Positive Light Contributes to Recovering Cognitive Ability

Study Finds that Viewing Aging in a Positive Light Contributes to Recovering Cognitive Ability

According to research from Yale School of Public Health, older people with moderate cognitive impairment, a common kind of memory loss also referred to as MCI, had a 30 percent higher chance of regaining normal cognition if they’d internalized positive views on aging as opposed to those who had internalized negative ones.

The team also discovered that those with these optimistic attitudes were able to regain cognitive abilities up to two years earlier than those with negative aging beliefs.

No matter how severe the MCI was at its baseline, this cognitive recovery benefit was still relevant.

The lead author of the research, Becca Levy, says that “Most people assume that there is no recovery from MCI, but in reality, half of those who have it do recover. Little is known about the reason some recover while others do not. That is why we looked at positive age beliefs, to see if they’d help provide an answer.”

In her earlier experiments with older people, Levy discovered that positive age views decreased the stress brought on by cognitive problems, enhanced self-confidence regarding cognition, and improved cognitive performance. Based on these findings, Levy projected that positive age beliefs might play a significant role in cognitive recovery.

Positive age views, which are generally based on cultural influence, are found for the first time in the current study, which was recently published in JAMA Network Open.

No matter their baseline age and overall physical condition, older people in the positive age-belief group who began the research with normal cognition were less likely to acquire MCI during the following twelve years when compared to those in the negative age-belief group.

The research was supported by the National Institute on Aging. 1,716 people over the age of 65 were selected from the Health and Retirement Study, a large scale national research.

Levy stated that “Our previous research has proven that age beliefs can be modified; therefore, age belief interventions at individual and societal levels may increase the number of people that experience cognitive recovery.”


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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