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      Social network characteristics and cognitive functioning in ethnically diverse older adults: The role of network size and composition.

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      Neuropsychology

      American Psychological Association (APA)

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          Abstract

          Social engagement has been linked to preserved cognitive functioning in later life. While social engagement is often operationalized as social network size, social networks can vary not only in size, but also in composition. Previous work has found that having a greater proportion of family in a network is associated with worse socioemotional and cognitive outcomes compared to having a greater proportion of friends. In addition, social resources may differentially affect cognition in minority groups at higher risk of cognitive impairment. Therefore, the current study aimed to examine racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between network characteristics and cognition. Ethnically and racially diverse older adults from the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project ( n =548, 60–93 years) were used. Multiple regressions were conducted to examine the effects of ethnicity/race, size, composition and their interaction on global cognition. Analyses revealed that networks with a greater proportion of friends were associated with better global cognition than networks with a greater proportion of family. Additionally, larger social network size was only associated with better global cognition among individuals who had a greater proportion of friends in their networks. Race further moderated this effect, as it was limited to African Americans. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of looking at both composition and size when examining the relationship between social network characteristics and global cognition. These findings suggest that friendships may be especially important and further suggest that social network characteristics and cognitive aging may be more strongly related among African Americans.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Neuropsychology
          Neuropsychology
          American Psychological Association (APA)
          1931-1559
          0894-4105
          June 13 2019
          June 13 2019
          Article
          10.1037/neu0000564
          6763346
          31192657
          © 2019
          Product

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