University Of Tasmania
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Studying at university in later life slows cognitive decline: A long-term prospective study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 02:28 authored by Aidan BindoffAidan Bindoff, Summers, MJ, Eddy RoccatiEddy Roccati, Jane AltyJane Alty, James VickersJames Vickers

Introduction: Declining cognition in later life is associated with loss of independence and quality of life. This decline in cognition may potentially be reduced or reversed through engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. This study examined the potential for university attendance in later life to enhance cognitive function in older adults.

Methods: Cognitively unimpaired adults (n = 485, 69% female, median age 60 years) were given the opportunity to undertake free university study. Repeated neurocognitive assessment was performed over 7 years.

Results: Participants in the university education group (n = 383) improved z = .02 SD (.01, .03) per year of the study compared to controls (P = .001; averaged across a battery of cognitive tests). The largest improvements were observed on tests of language and verbal learning, memory, and episodic memory.

Discussion: Later-life university study was associated with improved cognitive trajectories. Later-life education may preserve cognitive function, specifically for functions associated with communication, social interaction, and maintaining independence.


Publication title

Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions






Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

©2021 The Authors. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of Alzheimer’s Association. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, ( which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations aremade

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Preventive medicine; Health related to ageing