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Approved Research

The relationship of cognitive function and negative emotions with morbidity and mortality: an aetiological investigation

Principal Investigator: Dr Michelle Luciano
Approved Research ID: 10279
Approval date: June 26th 2015

Lay summary

1a: The proposed research aims to understand why it is that poorer cognitive function and negative emotional factors are typically associated with poorer health and increased mortality.  We shall use health outcome data to examine how all-cause mortality and incident cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD)vary according to prior cognitive function and negative emotions.  We shall investigate the extent to which relationships we find between cognition, emotions and these health outcomes are explained or modified by physical, biological, genetic, behavioural, and socio-demographic factors. Genetic analyses will incorporate multivariate genome-wide complex trait analysis and polygenic prediction of these relationships.

1b: Poorer cognitive function and negative emotional states and traits have been shown to increase mortality but the reasons for this are unclear.  We anticipate that the proposed research will: 1) show us how mortality and morbidity from common health conditions vary according to prior cognitive abilities and emotional factors; 2) reveal potential mechanisms whereby poorer cognition and negative emotion increase risk; and 3) identify whether other characteristics can increase or reduce the risk of ill health in those with poorer cognition and negative emotions.  This information could help inform intervention strategies for preventing or treating common health conditions.

1c: Using data on cognitive function and negative emotions together with data collected on health outcomes, scientists at the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology will examine whether cognitive performance and emotional states predict risk of all-cause mortality and the onset of cancer and CVD. They will investigate whether other characteristics, such as lifestyle, socio-demographic, physical, behavioural or biological factors, help to explain any links between cognitive function and emotions and these health outcomes. They will estimate degree of genetic sharing between: 1) cognitive function/emotions and these characteristics, and 2) cognitive function/emotions and health outcomes.

1d: The full cohort

PROJECT EXTENSION – APPROVED BY UK BIOBANK 02/05/2017:
Our current project, 10279, aims to understand why it is that poorer cognitive function and negative emotional factors are typically associated with poorer health and increased mortality. So far, we have been using health outcome data to examine how mortality or incident cardiovascular disease or cancer, for example, varies according to prior cognitive function and negative emotions, and exploring the role played by physical, biological, genetic, behavioural, and sociodemographic factors. One outcome we are also interested in exploring in relation to prior cognitive function and other factors is dementia. For instance, we would like to investigate the extent to which prior cognitive function helps predict later onset of vascular dementia independently of other risk factors. We have research experience in the cognitive epidemiology of dementia.1,2 This is not an outcome that we specified in our original application so I am writing to ask for approval to expand the scope of our project to include dementias as an outcome.

References
1. M 1. McGurn B, Deary IJ, Starr JM. Childhood cognitive ability and risk of late-onset Alzheimer and vascular dementia. Neurology 2008;71;1051-1056.

2. 2. Whalley L, Starr JM, Athawes R, Hunter D, Patty A, Deary IJ. Childhood mental ability and dementia. Neurology 2000;55:1455–1459

PROJECT EXTENSION – APPROVED 15/09/2017:
“One outcome we are also interested in exploring in relation to prior cognitive function and negative emotion is suicide. For instance, we would like to investigate the extent to which neuroticism, psychological distress and cognitive function predicts suicide independently of other risk factors. We have research experience in the cognitive epidemiology of suicide.”

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