As the percentage of older adults within the U.S. steadily increases, long-term care options are being impacted with growing numbers of seniors to provide for. The reality of these elevated numbers have sparked an interest in researchers to conduct studies on human development, plasticity in the brain, and training and intervention programs in search for ways to halt or lessen the cognitive and communicative decline, in older adults. As an alternative path to help older adults maintain quality of life, this study proposes to examine the link between communicative interaction and cognitive functioning to educate family members and healthcare providers on how communicative interactions and language influence cognition. Data (n = 3130) used in this study was retrieved from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS) 2014 for participants 65 years and older. Examination of the link between communicative interaction and cognition encompassed all factors of the learning process such as socio-emotional influences, environmental experiences, health and nutrition, and cognitive and physical development. Analysis of the study also included exploratory studies on social cognitive neuroscience and how brain training affects dementia. Findings in this study revealed that cognitive functioning declines with age, but rises with higher levels of education. Results also indicate that increased communicative interaction is significantly associated with improved cognitive functioning, when controlling for age, gender, and education. Considering other influential factors, determining the degree of association may require further investigation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Cognitive therapy; Cognition in old age -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hamilton, Eric R.;