Cognitive Function Tied to Markers of Cognitive Reserve

Cognitive decline higher in high occupation group, did not differ between other reserve groups

THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive performance is correlated with markers of reserve; but the rate of cognitive decline is similar in all reserve groups, with a difference in cognitive decline seen only in the high occupation group, according to a study published in the August issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Archana Singh-Manoux, Ph.D., from the Paul Brousse Hospital in Villejuif, France, and colleagues assessed the impact of three markers of cognitive reserve (height, education, and occupation) on cognitive function and decline in late adulthood. Data were collected from 5,234 men and 2,220 women (mean age, 56 years) from the Whitehall II study. Assessments for memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and phonemic and semantic fluency were carried out three times over 10 years. The correlation between decline and the markers was assessed.

The investigators found that all three markers correlated with baseline cognitive function, with the strongest and the weakest associations being with occupation and height, respectively. During the 10-year follow-up period, all cognitive functions except vocabulary showed a decrease. Compared to the intermediate and low occupation groups, the high occupation group showed a greater decline on the global cognitive test. In reserve groups defined by education and height, the decline was similar.

"Cognitive performance over the adult life course was remarkably higher in the high reserve groups. However, the rate of cognitive decline did not differ between reserve groups with the exception of occupation, where there was some evidence of greater decline in the high occupation group," the authors write.

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