Age Differences in the Association of Physical Activity, Sociocognitive Engagement, and TV Viewing on Face Memory

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Abstract

Objective:

Physical and sociocognitive lifestyle activities promote aspects of cognitive function in older adults. Very little is known about the relation between these lifestyle activities and cognitive function in young adults. One aspect of cognitive function that is critical for everyday function is episodic memory. The present study examined the relationship between lifestyle activities and episodic memory in younger and older adults.

Method:

Participants were 62 younger (mean age = 24 years) and older adults (mean age = 74 years). The augmented Victoria Longitudinal Study Activities Questionnaire was used to quantify level of engagement in physical activity, sociocognitive activity, and TV viewing. Episodic memory was assessed using the old–new face recognition paradigm in which memory for younger and older faces was tested.

Results:

Compared to younger adults, older adults reported being less physically and sociocognitively active while engaging in more passive behaviors such as TV viewing. A positive association was observed between physical activity and episodic memory for young adults but not for older adults. Interestingly, TV viewing was negatively associated with episodic memory in older adults but not younger adults. No relationship was found between sociocognitive activity and episodic memory for either younger or older adults. Although the own-age effect was observed for older adults, face age did not interact with lifestyle activities.

Conclusion:

The positive cognitive benefits of physical activity extend to younger adults; however, the interplay between physical activity and cognition may differ across the life span. Furthermore, TV viewing may be particularly detrimental to cognitive performance later in life.

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