Skip to main content

Cognitive function and mental health in old age

11 February 2020

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee continues its inquiry into Ageing: Science, Technology and Healthy Living, by exploring what can be done to protect cognitive ability in old age, and the role of technology in addressing isolation, loneliness and mental health issues.

Purpose of sessions

The inquiry has heard about biomedical processes such as inflammation that contribute to the ageing process. In the first session, the Committee will ask researchers how these processes affect cognitive ability and mental health in old age, and will also explore the links with stress and sleeping issues.

In the second session, the Committee will consider the linkages between isolation, loneliness and mental health issues in old age, asking academics and product developers how technology can help to address these issues.


Tuesday 11 February in Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster

At 10.20am

  • Professor Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, University of Oxford
  • Professor Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Sana Suri, Alzheimer's Society Research Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Professor Jane Raymond, Professor of Visual Cognition, University of Birmingham

At around 11.20am

  • Catherine McClen, Founder and CEO, BuddyHub
  • Sinead Mac Manus, Senior Programme Manager, Digital Health, Nesta
  • Dr Chris Blackmore, Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Sheffield
  • Simon Ommundsen, Head of User Experience, No Isolation

Possible questions

  • What do we know about the impact of factors such as stress, sleep and inflammation on cognitive function and mental health?
  • What is the concept of “cognitive reserve”, and is there enough causative evidence to suggest that interventions throughout the life course could help people to maintain cognitive function with age?
  • Is healthspan affected by loneliness and social isolation over the life course and in older age?
  • Do we have evidence to show that technological interventions can reduce loneliness and improve social connectedness for older people?

Further information