Reducing the risk of cognitive decline

31 May 2023

Professor Julie Henry from UQ's School of Psychology discusses the importance of social cognitive skills for mental health and wellbeing in this University of New South Wales article

A fellowship was awarded by the Dementia Australia Research Foundation to launch an Australian-first collaboration between leading researchers from UQ, UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) and Silverchain - one of Australia’s largest in-home aged care providers – to address the lack of treatment available to directly target social cognitive impairments.

People who have subjective cognitive decline or are living with early stages of dementia often experience changes in social cognitive skills that place them at substantially elevated risk of loneliness and depression.

A negative cycle develops where people who have these cognitive concerns have a much greater tendency to lose social cognitive skills, impacting their ability to develop and maintain quality interpersonal relationships.

As a person’s condition worsens, social networks tend to shrink, leading to greater isolation and depression, and ultimately putting them at greater risk of further cognitive decline and dementia.   

Professor Julie Henry emphasised the importance of social cognitive skills for mental health and wellbeing.

"Because social cognitive skills are critical for successful interpersonal communication, early intervention has the potential to meaningfully improve the social engagement, broader community participation, mental health, social relationships, and quality of life of many older Australians."

Read the article

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