|Title||An Early and Unequal Decline: Life Course Trajectories of Cognitive Aging in the United States.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2023|
|Authors||Yang, YC, Walsh, CE, Shartle, K, Stebbins, RC, Aiello, AE, Belsky, DW, Harris, KMullan, Chanti-Ketterl, M, Plassman, BL|
|Journal||J Aging Health|
|Keywords||Alzheimer's disease, cognitive aging, Dementia, social disparities|
OBJECTIVES: Cognitive aging is a lifelong process with implications for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. This study aims to fill major gaps in research on the natural history of and social disparities in aging-related cognitive decline over the life span.
METHODS: We conducted integrative data analysis of four large U.S. population-based longitudinal studies of individuals aged 12 to 105 followed over two decades and modeled age trajectories of cognitive function in multiple domains.
RESULTS: We found evidence for the onset of cognitive decline in the 4 decade of life, varying gender differences with age, and persistent disadvantage among non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and those without college education. We further found improvement in cognitive function across 20 century birth cohorts but widening social inequalities in more recent cohorts.
DISCUSSION: These findings advance an understanding of early life origins of dementia risk and invite future research on strategies for promoting cognitive health for all Americans.