Mood and cognition in healthy older European adults: the Zenith study

Ellen EA Simpson, Elizabeth A Maylor, Christopher McConville, Barbara J. Stewart-Knox, Natalie Meunier, Maud Andriollo-Sanchez, Angela Polito, Federica Intorre, Jacqueline McCormack, Charles Coudray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study aim was to determine if state and trait intra-individual measures of everyday affect predict cognitive functioning in healthy older community dwelling European adults (n = 387), aged 55-87 years.

Participants were recruited from centres in France, Italy and Northern Ireland. Trait level and variability in positive and negative affect (PA and NA) were assessed using self-administered PANAS scales, four times a day for four days. State mood was assessed by one PANAS scale prior to assessment of recognition memory, spatial working memory, reaction time and sustained attention using the CANTAB computerized test battery.

A series of hierarchical regression analyses were carried out, one for each measure of cognitive function as the dependent variable, and socio-demographic variables (age, sex and social class), state and trait mood measures as the predictors. State PA and NA were both predictive of spatial working memory prior to looking at the contribution of trait mood. Trait PA and its variability were predictive of sustained attention. In the final step of the regression analyses, trait PA variability predicted greater sustained attention, whereas state NA predicted fewer spatial working memory errors, accounting for a very small percentage of the variance (1-2%) in the respective tests.

Moods, by and large, have a small transient effect on cognition in this older sample.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11 (2014)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Psychology
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 May 2014


  • Mood
  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Older adults


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