Handicraft art leisure activities and cognitive reserve

Genna M. Mashinchi, Craig P. McFarland, Stuart Hall, Dawn L. Strongin, Gary A. Williams, Kelly A. Cotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ObjectiveOlder individuals face a higher likelihood of developing dementia. The rate of cognitive decline resulting from dementia is not equivalent for all, as some patients with dementia are able to function independently longer than others, despite having similar disease burden. The cognitive reserve (CR) theory provides one explanation for the differing rate of decline. CR suggests that there are factors—most notably, educational attainment and occupational attainment—that can protect against the cognitive decline. Although the beneficial effects of these notable CR factors are clear, not all are easily modifiable. Participation in leisure activities may represent a more easily modifiable factor. Some research hints at beneficial effects of leisure activities, although specific leisure activities have not been well examined. The present study examined the relations between handicraft art leisure activities (HALAs) and multiple cognitive domains. MethodArchival WAIS-IV and demographic data for 50 California retirement community residents were examined. ResultsHALA participation accounted for statistically significant variance in working memory performance (R 2 =.40, β =.24%) over and above the established CR factors of age, depression, educational attainment, and occupational attainment. In addition, HALA participation was related to a better ability to perform abstract visual information tasks (Block Design subtest, r =.28, p =.05) and non-verbal reasoning tasks (Visual Puzzles subtest, r =.38, p =.008). ConclusionsHALA participation among older adults could contribute to the retention of cognitive function, supporting the role of HALA participation as a CR factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-714
Number of pages32
JournalThe Clinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cognitive reserve
  • dementia
  • handicraft activities
  • handicrafts


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