Well-Being and Cognitive Resilience to Dementia-Related Neuropathology

Emily C. Willroth*, Bryan D. James, Eileen Kranz Graham, Alifiya Kapasi, David A. Bennett, Daniel K. Mroczek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Not all older adults with dementia-related neuropathology in their brains experience cognitive decline or impairment. Instead, some people maintain relatively normal cognitive functioning despite neuropathologic burden, a phenomenon called cognitive resilience. Using a longitudinal, epidemiological, clinical-pathologic cohort study of older adults in the United States (N = 348), the present research investigated associations between well-being and cognitive resilience. Consistent with preregistered hypotheses, results showed that higher eudaimonic well-being (measured via the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale) and higher hedonic well-being (measured via the Satisfaction with Life Scale) were associated with better-than-expected cognitive functioning relative to one’s neuropathological burden (i.e., beta-amyloid, neurofibrillary tangles, Lewy bodies, vascular pathologies, hippocampal sclerosis, and TDP-43). The association of eudaimonic well-being in particular was present above and beyond known cognitive resilience factors (i.e., socioeconomic status, education, cognitive activity, low neuroticism, low depression) and dementia risk factors (i.e., apolipoprotein E [ApoE] genotype, medical comorbidities). This research highlights the importance of considering eudaimonic well-being in efforts to prevent dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cognitive resilience
  • dementia
  • eudaimonic
  • hedonic
  • life satisfaction
  • preregistered
  • psychological well-being
  • subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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