‘Lifetimes’ : Personal stories from the Lothian Birth Cohorts


During 2012 I had the enormous pleasure of visiting and meeting some of the participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort studies – older people in their 70s and 90s. I listened to them, and wrote their ‘life-stories’, as part of the ongoing studies on ageing and cognition in which they are participating.

This ‘Lifetimes‘ project was in collaboration with Professor Ian Deary and his team at the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh,  and was made possible by funding from Age UK’s Disconnected Mind project and CCACE.

As Professor Deary explains:

“In June 1932 and June 1947, nearly all 11-year-olds who were attending school in Scotland sat a test of verbal reasoning. In the past decade, over 1500 of these people – now in older age – were recruited to the Lothian Birth Cohorts 1921 and 1936.
The rich scientific data from these studies have contributed to our knowledge about why some people’s thinking skills age better than others. Each life, though, has stories, details and colour that are not captured by questionnaires, medical tests and brain scans.
In ‘Lifetimes’, both the participants and scientists from the Lothian Birth Cohort studies tell us about their lives and influences.”

These fascinating, amusing and inspiring ‘lifetimes’ are now available as a free paperback (contact CCACE for further information), as ebooks, and online.

At the Lifetimes event at the Midlothian Science Festival in October 2014, the book – and the process and ethics of writing ‘lifestories’ was discussed by the audience, and met with a very interested and favourable response, and discussion.