The Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire (LEQ)


What is the LEQ?

The LEQ is a questionnaire to determine both your current mental activity levels and how active you have been over your lifetime. It was designed for individuals over 65 years of age or now retired.

The LEQ is a scientific questionnaire and provides a mental activity score based upon significant validated research.

The higher the score the greater your mental activity levels and the lower the general risk for age-related cognitive decline, brain shrinkage and risk of dementia.

A percentile score higher than 60 suggests a higher than average level of mental activity. A score lower that 60 suggests that you may want to consider becoming more mentally active.

As with any research you can withdraw from this research questionnaire at anytime.

 

Why is mental activity important?

From a brain health perspective, a number of studies have linked participation in mental activities with reduced dementia risk. Mental activity has a number of positive effects on the brain – from the level of the individual cell to overall brain connectivity and performance.

What’s the LEQ for?

In order to determine how your mental activity levels compare with your peers. The Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire (LEQ) was designed for this purpose and assesses the full range of complex mental pursuits that build up over a person’s lifetime. The LEQ is designed for individuals over the age of 65 years, or those already retired, and divides their experiences into the young adulthood, middle age and late life stages. Your educational, occupational and mental and leisure pursuits are assessed in relation to each of these life stages.

What do LEQ scores mean?

A higher LEQ score means that you are - or have been - more engaged in complex mental activities. We have shown that higher LEQ scores predict not only a slower rate of cognitive decline over time, but also a slower rate of brain shrinkage. As an aspirational target, we recommend that if your overall LEQ is lower than 60%, you should consider taking on new activities, particularly with mental, physical and social components. This should be combined with control of any illnesses, a healthy diet and a low stress life style.

Has the LEQ been scientifically validated?

Yes. We have published our validation study in the following international peer-reviewed scientific journal: M. Valenzuela & P. Sachdev. Assessment of complex mental activity across the lifespan: development of the Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire (LEQ). Psychological Medicine (2007) 37:1015-1025

What scores does the LEQ produce?

The LEQ produces an overall score plus three subscores – one for young adulthood, one for middle age and one for later life. The overall LEQ score is provided as a percentile – what percentage of the general population is below your score. So if you score 50%, you lie in the middle, with 50% individuals your age scoring below you and 50% above you; if you were to score 75%, it means that you are in the top 25%; or a 90% would mean that only 10% of your peers are scoring better than you.

On a precautionary note, remember that over-doing things can actually be harmful so use common sense at all times.

Finally, remember that even a score of 99% does not guarantee you can completely avoid dementia. What it does mean is that you have done as much as is humanly possible to delay its onset - so well done!

Is my overall LEQ score locked in?

If you’re in the older age bracket, there is obviously nothing you can do about your earlier life experiences and therefore cannot change those subscores. But you can always increase your current range and intensity of mental pursuits and then see how your overall score improves.

An important caveat: If you log back onto your account over the comings months, your LEQ score may actually increase even if your activities are unchanged! This is because you are being compared to a reference population which is changing constantly. To begin with, your overall scores will be compared to the performance our of ‘reference population’ of almost 100 healthy older adults. We do know, however, that this reference population was actually highly motivated individuals, so their ‘average LEQ’ might be an over-estimate of the actual general population’s LEQ. By filling in this online questionnaire, you will therefore also be helping us form a better picture of what ‘average’ really is. After we have collected several hundred new respondents, we will ‘lock-in’ the new reference values and your updated LEQ percentile score will be the most accurate possible.

How will my information be used?

As mentioned, we record your responses in order to build up a more and more accurate picture of what the ‘typical’ person’s mental activity profile is like. The sole purpose of this information is for academic research and any reference to your data will always exclude any identifying details. We will never pass on your personal details or information to any other party.

What if I have further questions?

If you have any further questions about the LEQ that you would like answered before completing it, please direct them to AProf Michael Valenzuela at info@rng.org.au

What if I wish to withdraw from this research after completing the questionnaire?

You can withdraw from this research at any time by email to Dr Michael Valenzuela info@rng.org.au

How do I proceed?

To complete the LEQ just follow the prompts and answer each question as accurately as possible. There is no cost or commitment implied and will take about 15 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation.

AProf Michael Valenzuela