Merrill Elias


  • Purdue University, Experimental Psychology, MS, Ph.D. (1963)
  • Duke University Center for Aging and Human Development, post-doctoral (1971)
  • Allegheny College, BA (1960), Boston University School of Public Health
  • Biostatistics and Epidemiology, MPH (1996)


Professor or Psychology, University of Maine, 1977 to present. Cooperating professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (2008- ); Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, Purdue University (1963), MPH, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health (1966). Fellow, American Psychological Association, Society of Psychosomatic Medicine, American Heart Association Councils on High Blood Pressure and Epidemiology. Research support: NSF, NIH, NATO. Framingham Heart Study Investigator (1994- ).  Director, Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study.

Research Interests

Laboratory of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Aging and Neuropsychology

My research combines interests in cognitive functioning and cardiovascular epidemiology. My major research activity focuses on the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS). Beginning at Syracuse University in 1975 and moving to the University of Maine in 1977, the MSLS has continued uninterrupted for more than 33 years thanks to support from the National Institute on Aging (NIH) and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH).  This community-based study offers students and faculty opportunities for archival data analysis focusing on relations among newly recognized and traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cognitive performance across the adult lifespan. Some examples of variables in the data base are as follows: blood pressure, diabetes, blood glucose levels, adiposity, depression, anxiety, stroke, cardiovascular disease, homocysteine, lipids, ApoE e4, arterial stiffness (indexed by pulse wave velocity), smoking, alcohol consumption, chocolate consumption vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folate, functional disability, activities of daily living, stroke and dementia history.  The MSLS offers longitudinal and cross-sectional data on these risk factors and an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests. Among our collaborators are faculty at the University of Maine, Boston University, the University of Virginia, the University of Southern California, Oxford University (UK), the University or Birmingham (UK) and Australian National University, the Nutrition Centre University of South Australia, and the Luxembourg National Institute of Health. While much of our work focuses on cognitive performance outcomes, biological outcome studies are also part of our effort, i.e. studies of food preferences and patterns, metabolic syndrome, and arterial stiffness and visual acuity. Our new research effort, led by GSBSE student Cara Sullivan, is relating visual acuity to cognitive tasks that place demands on visual spatial abilities and those that do not require vision with controls for cardiovascular diseases that affect visual acuity such as kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.

Selected Publications

  • Elias, M. F., Goodell, A. L., & Davey, A. (2020). The perils of automated wrist-cuff devices and dental chairs in opportunistic blood pressure screening. American Journal of Hypertension., M. F. & Goodell, A. L. (2020). Human errors in automated office blood pressure measurement: Still room for improvement. Hypertension, 77(1), 6-15. doi:10.1161/hypertensionaha.120.16164Ahmed, F. S., Wade, A. T., Guenther, B. A., Murphy, K. J., & Elias, M. F. (2020). Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with lower blood pressure in a US population: Findings from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Journal of Clinical Hypertension. Online ahead of print.  doi: 10.1111/jch.14068Henderson, V. A. & Elias, M. F. (2020) Leisure activity for dementia prevention: More work to be done [Peer-Reviewed Editorial]. Neurology, 95(20), 895-896. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000010962.

    Elias, M. F., & Goodell, A. L. (2020) The need for accurate data on blood pressure measurement in the dental office. American Journal of Hypertension, 33(4), 297-300. doi:10.1093/ajh/hpaa023

    Wade, A. T., Elias, M. F., & Murphy, K. J. (2019). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with cognitive function in an older non-Mediterranean sample: Findings from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Nutritional Neuroscience, Aug 21, 1-12. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1655201

    Elias, M. F., & Goodell, A. L. (2019). Setting the record straight for two heroes in hypertension: John J. Hay and Paul Dudley White. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 21, 1429-1431. doi:10.1111/jch.13650

    Crichton, G. E., Bogucki, O. E., & Elias, M. F. (2019). Dairy food intake, diet patterns, and health: Findings from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. International Dairy Journal, 91, 64-70.

    Elias, M. F., Torres, R. V., & Davey, A. (2019). Carotid artery blood flow velocities and cognitive performance: Forecasting cognitive decline [Commentary]. American Journal of Hypertension, 32(3), 237-239. 

    Ahmed, F. S., Bogucki, O. E., Dearborn, P. J., & Elias, M. F. (2O9). Obesity, cognitive functioning, and dementia: A lifespan prospective. In: Watson R. R. and Preedy V. R. (Eds.) Omega Fatty Acids in Brain and Neurological Health 2019. Elsevier Science.

    Please see for a complete set of references from 1975 to present.