Variable Details

Available Studies



Not Scaled

Variable Type 


Variable Name 




Cognitive activity - young adult
Frequency of participation in cognitively stimulating activity as a young adult - Average of 10 items

This variable is only available in MAP, MARS, and LATC.

Young adult age cognitive activity is assessed using a 10-item scale collected at baseline. Participants are asked how often they engaged in cognitively stimulating activities (e.g., reading, visiting museums, playing games) at the age of 18. Participating in extracurricular activities (item 10) is comprised of 4 subquestions.

Participants are asked to rate the items on a 5-point scale, with higher values indicating more frequent participation (see table below). The composite measure ranges from 1 to 5 and is the mean of the individual item scores, with higher scores indicating greater cognitive activity.

Participants are asked the following questions:

When you were 18…
1. how many times had you visited a museum?
2. how may times had you attended a concert, play, or musical?
3. about how much time did you spend reading each day?
4. how often did you visit a library?
5. how often did you read newspapers?
6. how often did you read magazines?
7. how often did you read books?
8. how often did you write letters?
9. how often did you play games like checkers or other board games, etc?

The following 4 subquestions are used to measure extracurricular educational experiences:

By the age of 18…
10a. had you received any instruction in a foreign language?
10b. had you taken any music lessons?
10c. had you taken any art, dance, or theater lessons?
10d. had you ever kept a diary or journal?

Response choices for each item:

Value Items 1-2 Item 3 Items 4-9 (flipped) Item 10
1 Never None Once a year or less All 4 questions answered as “no”
2 1-2 times Less than one hour Several times a year 1 question answered as “yes”
3 3-9 times One to less than 2 hours Several times a month 2 questions answered as “yes”
4 10-19 times two to less than three hours Several times a week 3 questions answered as “yes”
5 More than 20 times Three or more hours Every day/almost every day All 4 questions answered as “yes”

Note: The variable is calculated if at least half of the items are non-missing.