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A life course model of cognitive activities, socioeconomic status, education, reading ability, and cognition.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To cross-sectionally quantify the contribution of proxy measures of cognitive reserve reflective of the lifespan, such as education, socioeconomic status (SES), reading ability, and cognitive activities, in explaining late-life cognition.

DESIGN

Prospective observational cohort study of aging.

SETTING

Retirement communities across the Chicago metropolitan area.

PARTICIPANTS

Nine hundred fifty-one older adults free of clinical dementia in the Rush Memory and Aging Project (aged 79 ± 8, 74% female).

MEASUREMENTS

Baseline data on multiple life course factors included early-, mid-, and late-life participation in cognitive activities; early-life and adult SES; education; and reading ability (National Adult Reading Test; NART). Path analysis quantified direct and indirect standardized effects of life course factors on global cognition and five cognitive domains (episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, visuospatial ability, perceptual speed).

RESULTS

Adjusting for age, sex, and race, education had the strongest association with global cognition, episodic memory, semantic memory, and visuospatial ability, whereas NART (followed by education) had the strongest association with working memory. Late-life cognitive activities had the strongest association with perceptual speed, followed by education.

CONCLUSIONS

These cross-sectional findings suggest that education and reading ability are the most-robust proxy measures of cognitive reserve in relation to late-life cognition. Additional research leveraging path analysis is warranted to better understand how these life course factors, reflecting the latent construct of cognitive reserve, affect abnormal cognitive aging.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Alzheimer's Disease Center, School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. angelaj@bu.edu

    , , , , ,

    Source

    MeSH

    Aged
    Aged, 80 and over
    Alzheimer Disease
    Chicago
    Cognition Disorders
    Cognitive Reserve
    Cross-Sectional Studies
    Educational Status
    Female
    Humans
    Male
    Models, Statistical
    Neuropsychological Tests
    Prospective Studies
    Psychometrics
    Reading
    Retirement
    Socioeconomic Factors
    Statistics as Topic
    Urban Population

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    21797830