An international evaluation of cognitive reserve and memory changes in early old age in ten European countries

Dorina Cadar, Annie Robitaille, Sean Clouston, Scott M. Hofer, Andrea M. Piccinin, GM Terrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background Cognitive reserve was postulated to explain individual differences in susceptibility to ageing, offering apparent protection to those with higher education. We investigated the association between education and change in memory in early old age. Methods Immediate and delayed memory scores from over 10,000 individuals aged 65 years and older, from 10 countries of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), were modeled as a function of time in the study over an 8-year period, fitting independent latent growth models (LGM). Education was used as a marker of cognitive reserve and evaluated in associations with memory performance and rate of change, while accounting for income, general health, smoking, body mass index (BMI), sex and baseline age. Results In most countries, more educated individuals performed better on both memory tests at baseline, compared to those less educated. However, education was not protective against faster decline, except for in Spain for both immediate and delayed recall (0.007 (SE=0.003) & 0.006 (SE=0.002), and Switzerland for immediate recall 0.006 (SE=0.003). Interestingly, highly educated Italian respondents had slightly faster declines in immediate recall (-0.006 (SE=0.003)). Conclusions We found weak evidence of a protective effect of education on memory change in most European samples, although there was a positive association with memory performance at individuals' baseline assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date21 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2017


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