Cognitive Ability Influenced by Factors Throughout Lifetime

Link between childhood cognitive ability and cognitive state in later life modified by cognitive reserve index based on lifetime activities

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- An intellectually enriching lifestyle can moderate the association between childhood cognitive ability and cognitive state in later life, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Neurology.

Pamela Almeida-Meza, from University College London, and colleagues examined genetic and life course influences on the cognitive state at age 69 years. The association among four factors was examined for 1,184 participants: childhood cognition at age 8; cognitive reserve index (CRI) composed of educational attainment by age 26 years, engagement in leisure activities at age 43 years, and occupation up to age 53 years; reading ability at age 53 years, as assessed by the National Adult Reading Test (NART); and apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype relative to the cognitive state measured with Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination third edition (ACE-III) at age 69 years.

The researchers observed an association for higher scores in childhood cognition, CRI, and NART with higher scores on the ACE-III. The association between childhood cognition and ACE-III was modified by the CRI and NART; the simple slope of childhood cognition decreased by about 0.10 points for 30 additional points in the CRI or 20 additional points in the NART. At high levels of the CRI or NART, the association between childhood cognition and the ACE-III was nonsignificant. The ε4 allele of the APOE gene was associated with lower scores on the ACE-III but did not modify the association between childhood cognition and later-life cognitive state.

"Cognitive ability is subject to factors throughout our lifetime and taking part in an intellectually, socially, and physically active lifestyle may help ward off cognitive decline and dementia," a coauthor said in a statement.

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