Dr Judith Okely

I joined the University in June 2022 as a Lecturer in Psychology and will teach on modules including Individual Differences, Psychology of Lifespan and Researching Psychology.

I am interested in the Psychology of Ageing and cognitive ageing (changes in thinking, reasoning and memory skills) in particular. This topic is important because age-related cognitive decline (even without dementia diagnosis) impairs daily activities, is associated with poorer health and financial decision making, and predicts declines in physical and mental health. I use large-scale datasets with information collected from older people over time to study how cognitive abilities change with ageing and to identify some of the predictors of healthy cognitive ageing. To date, I have explored the potential effects of loneliness, physical fitness, hearing impairment and, most recently, musical experience on cognitive and other outcomes in older age.

I hold a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Health Psychology, and a PhD in Psychology, from the Universities of Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh respectively. After completing my PhD in 2018, I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher and then Research Fellow with the Lothian Birth Cohorts Group at the University of Edinburgh. I have experience working with various populations including people with diabetes, people living with dementia and healthy older people.

Research highlights:

Okely, J. A., Overy, K., & Deary, I. J. (2022). Experience of playing a musical instrument and lifetime change in general cognitive ability: Evidence from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. Psychological Science, 09567976221092726 https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976221092726

Okely, J. A., Akeroyd, M. A., & Deary, I. J. (2021). Associations Between Hearing and Cognitive Abilities from Childhood to Middle Age: The National Child Development Study 1958. Trend in Hearing, 25, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1177/23312165211053707

Okely, J. A., Corley, J., Welstead, M., Taylor, A. M., Page, D., Skarabela, B., Redmond, P., Cox, S. R., & Russ, T. C. (2021). Change in Physical Activity, Sleep Quality, and Psychosocial Variables during COVID-19 Lockdown: Evidence from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(1), 210. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010210

Okely, J. A., Čukić, I., Shaw, R. J., Chastin, S. F., Dall, P. M., Deary, I. J., Der, G., Dontje, M. L., Skelton, D. A., & Gale, C. R. (2019). Positive and negative well-being and objectively measured sedentary behaviour in older adults: Evidence from three cohorts. BMC Geriatrics, 19(1), 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-019-1026-1

Okely, J. A., & Deary, I. J. (2018). Longitudinal Associations between Loneliness and Cognitive Ability in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 74(8), 1376-1386. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gby086

Okely, J. A., & Deary, I. J. (2020). Associations Between Declining Physical and Cognitive Functions in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 75(7), 1393–1402. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glaa023

Okely, J. A., Deary, I. J., & Overy, K. (2021). The Edinburgh Lifetime Musical Experience Questionnaire (ELMEQ): Responses and non-musical correlates in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. PLOS ONE, 16(7), e0254176. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254176

A full list of my publications can be found here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=5-THwuAAAAAJ&hl=en