CLOSER Seminars: Investigating cognition and cognitive ageing using longitudinal studies ShareThis


This CLOSER Seminar (re-scheduled from July 2019) will feature talks from Marcus Richards (UCL), Vanessa Moulton (UCL) and Eoin McElroy (University of Leicester) and will focus on what longitudinal studies can tell us about cognition and cognitive ageing.

About the CLOSER Seminars

The aim of the seminar series to highlight methodological innovations and expertise, and in turn, facilitate and encourage future collaborations and new research.


Vanessa Moulton is a Senior Research Associate at the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies. Her research interests include using longitudinal and secondary data analysis to examine early life course on children’s and adult mental health, educational and socio-economic outcomes.

Eoin McElroy is a Lecturer in Psychology in the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, University of Leicester. Eoin’s work focuses mainly on the structure and measurement of mental health and cognitive ability across the life course.

Marcus Richards is a Professor of Psychology in Epidemiology at University College London, and leads the Mental Ageing Research Programme for the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL.  He read Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and obtained a PhD at London University in the physiology of human learning.  He has held appointments at Columbia University in New York and King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience to conduct research into neurodegenerative diseases of ageing.  In 1993 he was also one of the first national recipients of an Alzheimer’s Society Research Fellowship, to conduct a community-based study of dementia risk in relation to ethnicity.


A wealth of cognitive measures, such as those measuring skill at reading or arithmetic, have been collected throughout childhood and adult life by the British birth cohorts. In the seminar’s first talk, Vanessa and Eoin will discuss the CLOSER work assessing and harmonising cognitive measures collected across five longitudinal studies. It is the first project to organise and compare cognitive measures used between different studies as well as different sweeps of the same study.

Cognitive function shows strong temporal continuity, but is modifiable by factors right across life course, from genes and early development, through educational and occupational attainment, and through physical and mental health.  In the second presentation, Marcus will review how this has been approached in the 1946 birth cohort, with an emphasis on cognitive ageing but looking back on cognitive development, including some pioneering work by its founder, James Douglas.  Now that the cohort has reached its early 8th decade, it will become increasingly important to build a platform to capture clinical dementia, which roughly doubles in prevalence every 5 years after age 65.

Further information

If you have any queries or require further information about this event, please contact our Communications and Events Officer, Jennie Blows (