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Relationship between education and age-related cognitive decline: a review of recent research


Lenehan, ME and Summers, MJ and Saunders, NL and Summers, JJ and Vickers, JC, Relationship between education and age-related cognitive decline: a review of recent research, Psychogeriatrics : the official journal of the Japanese Psychogeriatric Society, 15, (2) pp. 154-162. ISSN 1346-3500 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 The Authors Psychogeriatrics Copyright 2014 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society

DOI: doi:10.1111/psyg.12083


The association between level of educational attainment and cognitive performance is well studied. People with higher education perform better across a broad range of cognitive tasks. However, there is uncertainty as to whether education moderates the trajectory of age-related cognitive decline. This review paper addresses the potential link between education and agerelated cognitive decline by evaluating relevant research published since 2000. Studies reporting data on education and its association with the rate of cognitive decline across various cognitive domains were reviewed. A total of 10 studies were identified with a mean follow-up period of 7.6 years; each contained a population-based, non-demented sample. In the majority of studies, results showed that education did not moderate age-associated cognitive decline. The few studies that did find an association between education and decline in specific cognitive functions should be interpreted with caution because of methodological issues. The literature reveals little consistent evidence that normal age-related cognitive decline is moderated by education attainment. This supports a passive theory of cognitive reserve: people with a higher level of education will continue to perform at a higher level of cognitive functioning than their lower educated peers, which may delay the onset of impairment in the future.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Education, Age-Related Cognitive Decline, Review
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Lenehan, ME (Dr Megan Thow)
UTAS Author:Summers, MJ (Dr Mathew Summers)
UTAS Author:Saunders, NL (Dr Nichole Saunders)
UTAS Author:Summers, JJ (Professor Jeffery Summers)
UTAS Author:Vickers, JC (Professor James Vickers)
ID Code:104784
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:116
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-11-19
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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