New research project: How do factors during childhood affect health, cognition and brain function when we get older?

Health, mental abilities and brain function typically decline when we get older. There are however marked individual differences in such decline, with some individuals remaining stable and some showing neurocognitive impairments and decline in health status. It has been suggested that childhood factors contribute to health and cognition in older age.

There are marked individual differences in cognitive status, brain function and wellbeing in aging. It is increasingly recognized that early life characteristics account for a substantial part of the individual differences in cognition, brain function and well-being in older age. Identification of how early factors may impact human brain and cognition throughout the lifespan has remained challenging, due to a scarcity of longitudinal studies spanning from childhood to older age. Professor Jonas Persson has been awarded a research grant from the Swedish Research Council of 6.3 million Swedish crowns for the project “Early life determinants of successful cognitive and brain aging (IDA-BRAIN)”.

Participants will be recruited from an extensive dataset that included all children in grades 3, 6, and 8 in Örebro, Sweden (The IDA-program) in 1965. Now, when these participants have reached their late-60’s, it opens up for addressing important questions about ageing in a life-span perspective and contribute insights into the developmental process across many areas. The project includes cognitive testing, magnetic resonance imaging to assess brain structure and function, health testing, and extensive testing on wellbeing and mood-disorders and would provide some of the longest-term multidomain measurements to date. Generating new knowledge on this issue is critical, as it may help to personalize the focus of intervention and prevention strategies.