Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher 1): Cognitive Project, 2011-2014 (ICPSR 37081)

Version Date: Apr 6, 2021 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Carol D. Ryff, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Margie E. Lachman, Brandeis University



Version V2 ()

  • V2 [2021-04-06]
  • V1 [2018-05-25] unpublished
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MIDUS Refresher 1 Cognitive, MR1P3

The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher): Cognitive Project, 2011-2014 collection includes data collected as part of the MIDUS Refresher study. The MIDUS Refresher study (2011-2014, ICPSR 36532) recruited a national probability sample of 3,577 adults, aged 25 to 74, designed to replenish the original MIDUS 1 baseline cohort and paralleling the five decadal age groups of the MIDUS 1 baseline survey (ICPSR 2760). Participants in the MIDUS Refresher survey were recruited for the Brief Test of Adult Cognition via Telephone (BTACT) interview. All recruited participants who completed the initial telephone interview were invited to complete the questionnaires, and, whether or not they returned the questionnaires, were invited to participate in the Cognitive Interview. In addition to the national MIDUS Refresher sample, respondents to the MIDUS Milwaukee Refresher sample (see ICPSR 36722) were also eligible to participate in the BTACT interview. From February, 2012, through September, 2014, respondents completed the cognitive interview. For the Cognitive Project MIDUS Refresher BTACT data were collected from 2,763 MIDUS Refresher participants.

The BTACT is the first comprehensive cognitive battery--including measures of speed and reaction time--to be administered by telephone to a national sample across the adult years and into later life. It includes seven subtests: word list recall immediate, word list recall delayed, backward digit span, number series, counting backward speed task, category fluency, and an attention switching reaction time task. The Refresher cognitive project provides a rich data set to examine individual differences in cognitive functioning with a diverse national sample in terms of age, sex, socioeconomic status (income, education) and geographical region.

Demographic variables in this collection include sex and age

Ryff, Carol D., and Lachman, Margie E. Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher 1): Cognitive Project, 2011-2014. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2021-04-06. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37081.v2

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (PO1AG020166)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2011 -- 2014
2012-02 -- 2014-09
  1. Additional information about the Midlife in the United States study can be found at the MIDUS website
  2. The MIDUS-produced DDI codebook (PDF file) and the XML file (contained in a .zip package) were not changed in any way by ICPSR. These original files do not reflect any of the processing done by ICPSR.

  3. These data can be linked to the primary MIDUS Refresher studies using the variable MRID.

  4. The title of this study was changed in September 2021 to reflect that it represents the first wave of the MIDUS Refresher project (MIDUS Refresher 1). The downloadable materials do not yet reflect this title update.


The overarching objective of MIDUS is to investigate linkages between sociodemographic, psychosocial, and biological variables to account for later life profiles of morbidity and mortality. The purpose of the MIDUS Refresher study was to extend questions asked of respondent from the original MIDUS baseline sample to a new national sample so as to provide broad cohort comparisons, while also shedding light on how U.S. adults have been impacted the 2008 economic recession and how these experiences are linked with their health.

The purpose of the Cognitive Project was to determine how cognition is related to overall mental and physical health. Specific goals were: (1) to characterize the nature and range of midlife cognitive performance, relative to those younger and older, across multiple domains in a nationally representative sample (MIDUS); and (2) to examine the relationship between biopsychosocial factors (e.g. SES, health status, health-promoting behaviors, metabolic and cardiovascular biomarkers, depression, personality, control beliefs, stressful life events) and individual difference in cognitive functioning. The development of a cognitive battery provided an opportunity to examine the cognitive performance of young, middle-aged and older adults from a wide range of education levels in a large-scale, national sample.

The MIDUS Refresher Cognitive project sample consists of a subset of eligible respondents who completed either the MIDUS Refresher phone interview (ICPSR 36532) or the MIDUS Milwaukee Refresher in-person interview (ICPSR 36722).

Adult non-institutionalized population in the contiguous United States aged 25-75. For the Milwaukee Refresher Sample, the adult non-institutionalized African-American population in the Milwaukee metropolitan area aged 25-64.


Of the 3,577 MIDUS Refresher respondents who completed the initial Phone interview (see ICPSR 36532), 2,550 (71%) completed the MIDUS Refresher BTACT. Separately, of the 508 MIDUS Milwaukee Refresher respondents who completed the initial in-person interview, 213 (42%) completed the BTACT.

Brief Test of Adult Cognition via Telephone (BTACT)



2021-04-06 The data collection has been updated to include question text and to apply ICPSR standards to labels

2018-05-25 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The current data do not contain any weight variables. Weighting data and documentation for the national MIDUS Refresher survey sample are available in that dataset (ICPSR 36532). No weights are available for the Milwaukee Refresher sample.



  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).