Secrets of successful ageing shared in reunion

Almost 300 people reunited to celebrate 20 years of continuous research into healthy ageing

The reunion brought together research participants, mostly adults in their 80s, and four who are 98-years-old, known as the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936.

In 1932 almost all children living in Scotland and born in 1921 took a test of verbal reasoning that measured their intelligence.

Research group

In 1999, some of the eleven-year-old children in 1932, by then older adults in their late 70s living in Edinburgh and the Lothians, were invited by psychologist Professor Ian Deary to participate in a study aiming to chart how peoples’ thinking skills change over their lifetime.

A few years later, in 2004, the invitation was extended to those born in 1936 who sat the same test of verbal reasoning at the age of eleven in 1947.

To mark the anniversary, the participants were invited to a reunion at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

The reunion took place twenty years to the day when the first Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 participant was tested.

Published research

The Lothian Birth Cohorts’ data has produced over 500 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles with many insights into healthy ageing through the life course.

The reunion celebrated the participants’ commitment and dedication to science with contributions from the lead scientists – including the Lothian Birth Cohorts’ Director, Professor Ian Deary, and his collaborators.

The reunion was a thank you for the cohorts’ 20 years of faithful contributions, and an opportunity to share our most recent findings. The contribution of the group is invaluable in advancing our understanding of how the brain and thinking skills age, and healthy ageing more generally. I and the team are grateful to, and humbled by, the participants for generosity and enthusiasm for the project.

Professor Ian DearySchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

The project has been funded by the charity Age UK.

Listen to ‘Brainwaves’ on BBC Radio Scotland with a special podcast celebrating 20 years of Lothian Birth Cohorts 

Follow the project Twitter @EdinUniLBC

The Lothian Birth Cohorts