The Role of Cognitive Control in Age-Related Changes in Well-Being

Ayano Yagi, Rui Nouchi, Kou Murayama, Michiko Sakaki, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Maintaining emotional well-being in late life is crucial for achieving successful and healthy aging. While previous research from Western cultures has documented that emotional well-being improves as individuals get older, previous research provided mixed evidence on the effects of age on well-being in Eastern Asian cultures. However, previous studies in East Asia do not always take into account the effects of cognitive control—an ability which has been considered as a key to enable older adults to regulate their emotions. In the current study, we tested whether cognitive control abilities interact with age in determining individuals’ well-being in 59 Japanese females (age range: 26–79; Mage = 64.95). Participants’ mental health and mental fatigue were tracked for 5 years together with their cognitive control abilities. We found that as individuals became older, they showed improved mental health and decreased mental fatigue. In addition, we found a quadratic effect of age on mental fatigue, which was further qualified by baseline cognitive control abilities. Specifically, in those who had a lower level of cognitive control abilities, mental fatigue declined until the mid-60s, at which point it started increasing (a U-shape effect). In contrast, in those who had a higher level of cognitive control ability, mental fatigue showed a steady decrease with age even after their mid-60s. These results suggest that whether advancing age is associated with positive vs. negative changes in well-being depends on cognitive control abilities, and that preserved cognitive control is a key to maintain well-being in late life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number198
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 9


  • cognitive control
  • Eastern Asia
  • executive functioning
  • psychological well-being
  • socioemotional selectivity theory
  • subjective well-being


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