Fluid intelligence predicts change in depressive symptoms in later life: The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

Stephen Aichele , P Ghisletta, Janie Corley, Alison Pattie, Adele Taylor, John M Starr, Ian J Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examined reciprocal, time-ordered associations between age-related changes in fluid intelligence and depressive symptoms. Participants were 1,091 community-dwelling older adults from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study who were assessed repeatedly at 3-year intervals between the ages of 70 and 79 years. On average, fluid intelligence and depressive symptoms worsened with age. There was also a dynamic-coupling effect, in which low fluid intelligence at a given age predicted increasing depressive symptoms across the following 3-year interval, whereas the converse did not hold. Model comparisons showed that this coupling parameter significantly improved overall fit and had a correspondingly moderately strong effect size, accounting on average for an accumulated 0.9 standard-deviation increase in depressive symptoms, following lower cognitive performance, across the observed age range. Adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related covariates did not significantly attenuate this association. This implies that monitoring for cognitive decrements in later life may expedite interventions to reduce related increases in depression risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1984-1995
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Early online date25 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • intelligence
  • depression
  • longitudinal change
  • lead-lag
  • dynamic


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