In February 2023, Scientific Reports published our paper "Parental education, cognition and functional connectivity of the salience network". Our aim was to investigate the association of parental education at birth with cognitive ability in childhood and young adulthood and determine, whether functional connectivity of the salience network underlies this association. On participants of the Czech arm of the ELSPAC study, we found that lower education of both parents was associated with lower IQ of the offspring in childhood, but only the effect of mother´s education lasted until young adulthood. Lower mother´s education also correlated with functional connectivity of the salience network, which, in turn, was associated with IQ. We suggest that the impact of mother´s education on offspring´s IQ lasts longer and is mirrored in the functional connectivity of the salience network.  



In October 2022, Journal of Psychiatric Research published our paper "Sons and parental cognition in mid-life and older adulthood" that we wrote jointly we colleagues from the US, particularly from Columbia University in New York City. Our aim was to assess the relationship between having sons and parental cognitive aging. On more than 13 000 older adults enrolled in the HRS, we found that parents of at least 1 son had a faster rate of cognitive decline in comparison to parents without any son. In addition, cognitive decline was faster among parents of multiple sons, compared to parents with only daughters. These results support the theory that having sons might have a long-term negative effect on parental cognition.


In September 2022, Translational Psychiatry published our paper "Physical activity partly mediates the association between cognitive function and depressive symptoms" that we wrote jointly with researchers from University of Geneva in Switzerland. We aimed to investigate the intertwined relationship between cognitive function, depressive symptoms and physical activity. On more than 50 000 older adults from the SHARE study, we found that physical activity is a mediator in the association between cognitive function and depressive symptoms. This suggests that higher cognitive resources favor the engagement in physical activity, which contributes to reduced depressive symptoms.


In June 2022, Journal of Alzheimer´s Disease published our paper "Gender/Sex Differences in the Association of Mild Behavioral Impairment with Cognitive Aging" that we wrote jointly with University of Exeter and King´s College London. We aimed to explore gender/sex differences in the association of mild behavioural impairment with the level of cognitive performance and its rate of decline in a dementia-free cohort. On more than 8 000 older adults enrolled in the British PROTECT Study, we found that 11% of women and 14% of men had mild behavioral impairment. The associations of mild behavioral impairment with some measures of cognitive performance and decline were stronger in men than women. We propose gender/sex could be taken into account as an effect modifier when targeting mild behavioral impairment in the efforts to prevent cognitive decline.


In May 2022, Translational Psychiatry published our joint paper "Variation in depressive symptom trajectories in a large sample of couples". We aimed to study how depressive symptoms of couples evolve over time and determine, which characteristics are associated with their distinct trajectories. On more than 11,136 heterosexual couples from 16 European countries that participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we extracted four distinct classes of couples: both non-depressed (76.91%); only women having consistently high depressive symptoms (8.08%); both having increasing depressive symptoms (7.83%); and both having decreasing depressive symptoms (7.18%). Couples with increasing depressive symptoms had the highest prevalence of relationship dissolution and bereavement.


In April 2022, Scientific Reports published our paper "Season of birth has no effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety in older adults". We aimed to assess the association of season of birth as well as month of birth with symptoms of depression and anxiety. On more than 72 000 participants of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, month of birth explained only 0.01% to 0.07% of anxiety and depressive symptoms with non-significant improvement in the overall models; using season of birth instead of month of birth added 0.00% to 0.04% of explained variance. We conclude that season of birth and month of birth are not reliable predictors of anxiety and depression across the life course.



In December 2021, Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences published our paper "Association between physical-activity trajectories and cognitive decline in adults 50 years of age or older". We aimed to investigate the associations of physical-activity trajectories with the level of cognitive performance and its decline in older adults. On almost 40 000 participants of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we identified wo trajectories of physical activity: constantly high (71% of participants) and decreasing physical activity (29% of participants). Individuals in the decreasing physical-activity group exhibited a lower level of cognitive performance as well as a steeper decline in all cognitive measures, when compared to those with the constantly high physical activity.  


In December 2021, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience published our paper "Socioeconomic and cognitive roots of trait anxiety in young adulthood". We aimed to study the link between socioeconomic deprivation, cognitive ability, trait anxiety and associated biomarkers. On 54 participants of the Czech arm of the ELSPAC cohort, we found that early-life socioeconomic deprivation was associated with lower cognitive ability in adolescence as well as higher trait anxiety in young adulthood. Higher cognitive ability in adolescence predicted lower trait anxiety in young adulthood. Resting state functional connectivity between the right lateral prefrontal cortex and a cluster of voxels including left precentral gyrus, left postcentral gyrus and superior frontal gyrus mediated the relationship between lower cognitive ability in adolescence and higher trait anxiety in young adulthood.


In November 2021, PlosOne published our paper "Risk and protective factors of neurocognitive disorders in older adults in Central and Eastern Europe: A systematic review of population-based studies". We aimed to systematically review population-based studies from Central and Eastern Europe to gather evidence on risk and protective factors for neurocognitive disorders. Having included 25 papers in a narrative synthesis of the evidence describing cardiovascular, social as well as biological factors, we concluded that the epidemiological evidence from this region is insufficient. Population-based prospectively followed cohorts should be established to allow the development of preventive strategies at national levels.


In August 2021, Journal of Alzheimer´s Disease published our paper "Association Between Season of Birth and Cognitive Aging in Older Adults: Pan-European Population-Based Study on 70,000 Individuals". We aimed to study how being born during specific seasons influences cognitive ageing. On more than 70 000 older adults who participated in the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe, we found that individuals who were born in winter had a lower level of cognitive performance when compared to those born in other seasons. Interestingly, being born in winter did not seem to affect the rate of cognitive decline over time.


In August 2021, The Lancet Regional Health - Europe published a paper "Changes in national rates of psychiatric beds and incarceration in Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia from 1990-2019: A retrospective database analysis", on which we were collaborating. The aim of the study was to assess changes in the numbers of psychiatric beds and prison populations across Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia over the last three decades. Using data from countries in this region between 1990 and 2019, the authors found greater reductions of rates of psychiatric beds in countries with lower per capita income as well as in countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Seventeen out of 30 countries showed inverse trends for general psychiatric beds and prison populations over time, indicating a possible shift of institutionalisation towards correctional settings. 


In February 2021, our paper "Role of sex in the association between childhood socioeconomic position and cognitive ageing in later life" was published in Scientific Reports. Our aim was to study whether men and women differ in how their socioeconomic position in childhood influences their cognitive ageing. We studied more than 80 000 older adults from the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. We found that growing up with socioeconomically disadvantaged households was associated with a lower level of cognitive performance as well as a higher rate of cognitive decline to a higher extent in women then in men. The strongest mediator was education. This study suggests that strategies to prevent impaired late-life cognitive functioning through reducing childhood socioeconomic disadvantages and improving education might have a greater benefit for women. 


In January 2021, the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatry Epidemiology published our paper "Sex differences in the association of childhood socioeconomic position and later-life depressive symptoms in Europe: the mediating effect of education". We aimed to find out whether men and women differ in how their childhood socioeocnomic position influences depressive symptoms in later-life. Studying almost 60 000 participants of the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we observed that growing up in poor socioeconomic conditions was a stronger risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms for women than it was for men. Education may have a stronger preventive potential for women in reducing the adverse effects of childhood socioeconomic hardship. 

Created: 7. 10. 2021 / Modified: 10. 3. 2023 / Responsible person: MUDr. Pavla Čermáková, Ph.D.