Educational Differences in the Rate of Cognitive Decline

Kristen Suthers, National Institute on Aging (NIA), NIH
Eileen Crimmins, University of Southern California

Whether early life educational attainment affects the rate of cognitive decline among people over age 70 is still not known. Longitudinal data from the first four waves of the AHEAD study are used for this analysis to examine whether educational attainment determines the rate of decline on cognitive tasks over time. The cognitive tests include indicators of working memory, orientation, knowledge, language, and verbal recall. Growth curve models based on hierarchical linear modeling are used to examine change over time in individual cognitive dimensions. Findings indicate that higher levels of education do slow the rate of decline in certain abilities, while offering little protection in other abilities. The effect of race/ethnicity on cognitive decline depends on the task; but, race/ethnicity does not affect the relationship between education and cognitive decline.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging