Two sides of the same coin: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence as cognitive reserve predictors of social cognition and executive functions among vulnerable elderly people

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Frontiers Media S.A.
The concept of cognitive reserve –CR– postulates two forms that prevent cognitive impairment: neural reserve and neural compensation. Both have been primarily linked to the protective role played by genetic factors, educational level, occupation or socioeconomic status. Though it is true that it has been related to executive functions, so far very little attention has been paid to its predictive capacity with other variables more related to social cognition and psychosocial adaptation. Considering socially vulnerable contexts with reduced cultural capital and educational levels, the neural reserve function would be the most relevant and best predictor of aspects related to social cognition and executive functions. We suggest that variables such as fluid and crystallized intelligence influence social cognition and executive functions. This study included a sample of 27 participants over 60 years old from varied contexts of social vulnerability. The procedure included data collection using various cognitive measures. Results show that elderly people with high intelligence—mainly fluid intelligence—have better executive functions, emotional recognition and theory of mind. These results focus on cognitive reserve and its importance because they show that elderly people in vulnerable contexts who strengthen these aspects protect themselves against the deterioration of cognitive skills. This study is the first preliminary research to present a relationship between cognitive reserve and social cognition factors in elderly subjects. Fluid intelligence functions as a highly related factor to protect the performance of executive functions, along with other social-cognitive factors relevant to facilitating the conditions of social adaptation.
This work was supported by grants from National Scientific and Technological Research Commission (ANID/FONDECYT Regular No. 1201486 to DH and ANID/FONDECYT Iniciación No. 11190565 to JE). The funders had no role in the decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript
Frontiers Neurology, Vol. 12, 599378 (2021) p. 1-8
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