Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Enhancing cognitive reserve in the community: Exploring the effects of Sensory Environment and Playfulness on Depression and Cognition (SEPDC) among older adults

Zdravko Trivic, PhD; Daniel R. Y. GAN, PhD; Habib Chaudhury, PhD; Patrick Dillon, PhD; Tam Elisabeth Perry, PhD

Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore

In view of sensory and cognitive declines that advance with ageing, this interdisciplinary study aims to explore effects of Sensory Environment and Playfulness on Depression and Cognition (SEPDC) among older adults, and their capacity to enhance cognitive reserve in the community. While sensory environment refers to capacity to engage through all environmental stimuli, playfulness is the tendency to engage in play, a personality trait that enables people to render activities as playful. Our hypothesis is that sensory environment and playfulness are valuable interrelated mechanisms to reduce depression and cognitive decline.

This study employs quantitative survey and path analysis to examine direct and indirect effects of exposure (sensory environment, playfulness) on outcome variables (self-rated memory, cognition) through intermediates (depression, loneliness). Cross-sectional surveys will be conducted in 20 public housing neighbourhoods in Singapore, involving 400-500 participants. Additional verification study with 20 representative participants will include biospecimen collection (saliva to measure interleukin levels as indicators of stress and depression) and eye-tracking data (associated with mild cognitive impairment, personal traits, emotional arousal, etc.).

Establishing the empirical validity of these pathways in the population will identify the relevant focal variable(s) for intervention development, which will be piloted and tested in the future.

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