Exposure to high levels of cortisol and self-reported stress, as well as cognitive reserve, have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease pathology. However, there are no studies on the interaction of these variables. The present study aims to assess the associations of measures of cortisol, self-reported stress, and cognitive reserve with neuropsychological performance in healthy elderly people; besides, to test the interactions between these variables. Cross-sectional analyzes were conducted using data on stress, cognitive reserve and clinical conditions in 145 healthy elderly adults. A neuropsychological battery was used to assess executive functions, verbal memory and processing speed. Measurement of salivary cortisol at the circadian nadir was taken. A negative association between different stress measures and performance on tasks of memory, executive functions and processing speed was observed. Elderly people with higher cognitive reserve showed superior performance on all neuropsychological measures. No significant interaction between stress and cognitive reserve to neuropsychological performance was observed. These results indicate that older adults with high levels of stress and reduced cognitive reserve may be more susceptible to cognitive impairment.
Salivary cortisol; Glucocorticoid; Stress; Cognitive reserve