Education, Activity Engagement, and Cognitive Function in US Chinese Older Adults.J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019 08; 67(S3):S525-S531.JA
To examine whether and how early-life experiences such as years of schooling affect late-life cognitive function through a pathway of activity engagement.
We used data from 2 waves of the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE).
PINE is the largest population-based epidemiological study of Chinese-American adults aged 60 and older in the greater Chicago area. Wave 1 data were collected for 2 years, from July 2011 to June 2013, and Wave 2 data were collected from 2013 to 2015; total sample size was 2,713.
Education was measured in years of schooling. Activity engagement was assessed using 15 items grouped into two clusters: cognitive activity and social activity. Cognitive function was evaluated using five instruments to assess general mental status (Chinese Mini-Mental State Examination (C-MMSE)), episodic memory, perceptual speed, working memory, global cognition score.
Adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related control variables, education measured at Wave 1 was associated with better global cognition (b = 0.025, p < .001), C-MMSE (b = .037, p < .001), episodic memory (b = .026, p < .001), Symbol Digit Modalities Test perceptual speed (b = .036, p < .001), and Digit Span Backward working memory (b = .047, p < .001) at Wave 2. Activity engagement, cognitive activity in particular, significantly mediates the effect of education on all cognitive tests, with the size of the mediating effect ranging from 16% to approximately 24%.
Amount of schooling early in life is significantly related to late-life cognitive function in virtually all domains, and cognitive activity is one of many links between the two. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:S525-S531, 2019.