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Cognitive health

Exploring the value of cognitive health in a place


Dates: 1 April 2020 - 31 March 2022
Funder: Health Foundation

Project description 

It has been suggested that aspects of the environments we live in may influence how well our brains work. For example, can people think better after spending time in parks, in the countryside or by the sea? Do we find it easier to remember things in quiet places, or in lively ones? Does pollution affect our thought processes? What are the relationships between people’s cognitive health and their neighbourhoods?

Cognition is central to human functioning and is an important driver of health and social outcomes. However, unlike physical health, disability, economic growth or happiness, it is rarely a focal point of public policy. This project examines the effects of places, policies and events on cognition.

The project is a collaboration between a team at CPEC and a team at University College London (UCL). The UCL team are using geostatistical modelling techniques developed from brain imaging studies to explore relationships between neighbourhoods and cognition. The CPEC team will be exploring how people understand cognition and cognitive change, and perceptions of their associations with neighbourhood factors. 


CPEC is leading the qualitative component of the work which is designed to inform and enhance understanding of the results of the geostatistical modelling work being carried out at UCL. We are inviting people living in England and aged between 40 and 69 to take part in focus groups to discuss perceptions of cognitive change, and the influence of environmental and lifestyle factors on how well people feel their brains are working. We will also be interviewing public health experts and policy-makers.

Interviews and focus groups will explore the extent to which people see cognition as an important resource for them as individuals or for society as a whole, the relevance of cognitive health for local policy agendas, and people’s interpretations of the results of the geostatistical modelling.

Focus groups

If you would be interested in taking part in a focus group, or for more information about the study please contact:

Further project information

Principal Investigator at LSE: Professor Martin Knapp
CPEC Research team: Dr Tihana Matosevic, Dr Madeleine Stevens
Countries: England

Keywords: cognition, cognitive footprint


Martin Knapp