Psychological well-being in elderly adults with extraordinary episodic memory

Amanda Cook Maher*, Stephanie Kielb, Emmaleigh Loyer, Maureen Connelley, Alfred Rademaker, M. Marsel Mesulam, Sandra Weintraub, Dan McAdams, Regina Logan, Emily Rogalski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives The Northwestern University SuperAging Program studies a rare cohort of individuals over age 80 with episodic memory ability at least as good as middle-age adults to determine what factors contribute to their elite memory performance. As psychological well-being is positively correlated with cognitive performance in older adults, the present study examined whether aspects of psychological well-being distinguish cognitive SuperAgers from their cognitively average-for-age, same-age peers. Method Thirty-one SuperAgers and 19 cognitively average-for-age peers completed the Ryff 42- item Psychological Well-Being questionnaire, comprised of 6 subscales: Autonomy, Positive Relations with Others, Environmental Mastery, Personal Growth, Purpose in Life, and Self-Acceptance. Results The groups did not differ on demographic factors, including estimated premorbid intelligence. Consistent with inclusion criteria, SuperAgers had better episodic memory scores. Compared to cognitively average-for-age peers, SuperAgers endorsed greater levels of Positive Relations with Others. The groups did not differ on other PWB-42 subscales. Discussion While SuperAgers and their cognitively average-for-age peers reported similarly high levels of psychological well-being across multiple dimensions, SuperAgers endorsed greater levels of positive social relationships. This psychological feature could conceivably have a biological relationship to the greater thickness of the anterior cingulate gyrus and higher density of von Economo neurons previously reported in SuperAgers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0186413
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological well-being in elderly adults with extraordinary episodic memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this