Symmetric faces are a sign of successful cognitive aging

Lars Penke, Timothy C. Bates, Alan J. Gow, Alison Pattie, John M. Starr, Benedict C. Jones, David I. Perrett, Ian J. Deary

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    34 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    It has been proposed that a common cause underlies individual differences in bodily and cognitive decline in old age. No good marker for this common cause has been identified to date. Here, fluctuating asymmetry (FA), an indicator of developmental stability that relates to intelligence differences in young adults, was measured from facial photographs of 216 surviving members of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 at age 83 and related to their intelligence at ages 11, 79 and 83 years. FA at age 83 was unrelated to intelligence at ages I I and 79 and to cognitive change between 11 and 79 years. It was, however, associated with intelligence and information processing efficiency at age 83 and with cognitive change between 79 and 83 years. Significant results were limited to men, a result predicted by sex differences in life history tradeoffs and life expectancy. Results were stronger when directional asymmetries were corrected in facial FA measures. Thus, FA is a candidate marker for the common cause of differential senescence. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)429-437
    Number of pages9
    JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
    Volume30
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

    Keywords

    • LIFE
    • INTELLIGENCE
    • Facial fluctuating asymmetry
    • REACTION-TIME
    • AGE
    • FLUCTUATING ASYMMETRY
    • General intelligence
    • Information processing speed
    • Cognitive aging
    • FITNESS
    • DEVELOPMENTAL INSTABILITY
    • FACIAL ATTRACTIVENESS
    • ASSOCIATION
    • Senescence
    • Common cause hypothesis
    • SEXUAL-DIMORPHISM

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