Using a Reminiscence-based Approach to Investigate the Cognitive Reserve of a Healthy Aging Population

Barbara Colombo, Stefania Balzarotti, Allison Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The concept of Cognitive Reserve (CR) has been used to account for brain plasticity in older adults that may underlie the resilience against the effects of aging or pathology on cognitive abilities. This study aims at exploring the proxies of CR in a sample of healthy older adults by analyzing their spontaneous reminiscence through a discourse analysis approach. Method: Fifteen community-dwelling older adults were asked to participate in a video-recorded, spontaneous reminiscence interview. Interviews were transcribed according to Conversation Analysis, and two judges classified the interview content identifying five main markers of CR: enriched environment, cognitively stimulating activities, education, physical activity, and social interaction. Results: Reminiscence allowed to identify markers of CR. Sharing stories that are linked to CR markers promote positive emotion, coherent sense of self, and cognitive evaluation of the importance of the social network. Conclusions: Reminisce looks like a possible approach not only to indirect evaluate the CR, but also to promote it. Clinical Implications: The reminisce approach can be used as a clinical tool to assess and increase the CR, help the clinical population to experience more positive emotions, maintain a more defined sense of self, and value more the social resources available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-420
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Health (social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • discourse analysis
  • healthy aging
  • reminiscence


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