The Cognitive Costs and Benefits of Social Technology use in Older Adulthood

Neika Sharifian
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, College of Literature, Science & the Arts


  • Laura Zahodne


Social engagement is an important protective factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia. However, it is unclear whether social engagement through social technologies (i.e., texting, social media, video chat, email) demonstrate the same protective effects as face-to-face social interactions. The proposed study will assess whether previously-established social technology measures demonstrate measurement equivalence across younger and older adult populations and are psychometrically sound for use in older adults. 


  • Lee JH, Sol K, Zaheed AB, Morris EP, Meister LM, Palms JD, Zahodne LB. Coping Styles and Cognitive Function in Older Non-Hispanic Black and White Adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2023 Jan 11:gbad005. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbad005. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36630289.
  • Palms JD, Zaheed AB, Morris EP, Martino A, Meister L, Sol K, Zahodne LB. Links between early-life contextual factors and later-life cognition and the role of educational attainment. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2022 Dec 20:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S135561772200090X. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36537155.
  • Zahodne LB. Biopsychosocial pathways in dementia inequalities: Introduction to the Michigan Cognitive Aging Project. Am Psychol. 2021 Dec;76(9):1470-1481. doi: 10.1037/amp0000936. PMID: 35266748; PMCID: PMC9205325.
  • Sharifian N, Sol K, Zaheed AB, Morris EP, Palms JD, Martino AG, Zahodne LB. Depressive Symptoms, Leisure Activity Engagement, and Global Cognition in Non-Hispanic Black and White Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 2021 August 13. PubMed PMID: 34387343; DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbab153.
  • Sharifian N, Kraal AZ, Zaheed AB, Sol K, Morris EP, Zahodne LB. Measurement Invariance of Social Media Use in Younger and Older Adults and Links to Socioemotional Health. Innov Aging. 2021 Mar 11;5(2):igab009. doi: 10.1093/geroni/igab009. PMID: 33928196; PMCID: PMC8057130
  • Sharifian, N., Zaheed, A. B., & Zahodne, L. B. (2021). The role of envy in linking active and passive social media use to memory functioning. Psychology of Popular Media. Advance online publication.
  • Hamlin, A.B., Kraal, A.Z., & Zahodne, L.B. (2020, November). Social engagement and episodic memory in non-Hispanic Black and White older adults. Poster presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (virtual conference).
  • National Institute on Aging. R01AG082307. Mechanisms of Inequalities in ADRD Risk Across Race and Place in the Michigan Cognitive Aging Project. Role: PI
  • National Institute on Aging. F31AG077758. Multilevel Biopsychosocial Stress Mechanisms Underlying Racial Disparities in ADRD Risk. Role: Sponsor PI
  • National Institute on Aging. K01AG073588. Risk and Resilience Mechanisms Underlying Race Disparities in ADRD: An Examination of Neighborhood Resources, Social Networks, Brain Integrity and Cognition. Role: Co-Mentor
  • National Institute on Aging. F31AG067717. Racial and gender disparities in sleep as modifiable determinants of cognitive aging. Role: Sponsor PI
  • Zaheed, A.B., & Zahodne, L.B. (2023, February). The role of CPAP treatment on associations between obstructive sleep apnea and cognition among Black and White older adults. Paper presented at the 50th annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, San Diego, CA.
  • Sol, K., Esposito, M., Clarke, P., & Zahodne, L.B. (2022, August). Changes in neighborhood disadvantage over 18 years contribute to racial disparities in later-life cognition. Paper presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, San Diego, CA.
  • Hamlin, A.B., Kraal, A.Z., & Zahodne, L.B. (2020, August). Which aspects of social engagement are most strongly associated with episodic memory in older adults? Poster presented at the 128th annual convention of the American Psychological Association (virtual conference).
  • Sharifian, N., Zaheed, A. B., & Zahodne, L. B. Social Media Use and Memory Functioning Adulthood: The Mediating Role of Social Comparison Processes. In K. Sol (Chair), Life Course Mechanisms and Moderators of Associations between Social Relations and Cognitive Aging. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association Virtual Conference. August 2020.
  • Martino, A. G., Sharifian, N., & Zahodne, L. B. Active Versus Passive Use Does Not Moderate the Association Between Social Media Use and Depressive Symptoms. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science Virtual Poster Showcase. June-September, 2020.
  • Sharifian, N. The Cognitive Costs and Benefits of Social Technology use in Older Adulthood. 3rd annual MiCDA Pilot Project Virtual Symposium. May 21, 2020.