Aging Audiences: Association of Live Performance Attendance and Cognitive Decline in a Biracial Sample

Kumar Rajan, Rekha S. Rajan, Lydia K. Manning, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine if attendance in live performances was associated with change in cognition among African Americans (AAs) and European Americans (EAs). Method: The study consisted of 5,567 older adults with at least follow-up interview and analyzed using a linear mixed effects regression model adjusting for demographic and health variables. Results: We found that frequent performance attendance was associated with slower decline in composite cognitive function among older AAs and EAs. Attending 10 or more performances per year was associated with 23% slower cognitive decline among AAs and 31% slower cognitive decline among EAs compared with those who never attend any performance. However, this difference was not significant (p =.56). Attending live performances was also associated with slower decline in individual tests of perceptual speed, episodic memory, and mini-mental state exam (MMSE). Discussion: Our findings suggest that live performances form a valuable component of arts engagement and should be encouraged for potential cognitive benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-457
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive decline
  • minorities
  • music
  • performing arts
  • theater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Gerontology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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