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Cognitive Ability in Childhood Linked to Cognitive Scores at 70

Childhood cognitive ability, education, socioeconomic position independently linked to cognition

THURSDAY, Oct. 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Childhood cognitive ability is associated with cognitive scores, including the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC), more than 60 years later, according to a study published online Oct. 30 in Neurology.

Kirsty Lu, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues examined predictors of performance on a range of cognitive measures, including the PACC. A total of 502 individuals born in 1946 underwent cognitive assessment, including PACC and a test of nonverbal reasoning, at age 69 to 71 years. In a subsample of 406 cognitively normal participants, associations between cognition and dementia biomarkers (β-amyloid [Aβ] positivity, whole brain volume, white matter hyperintensity volume [WMHV], and APOE ε4) were examined.

The researchers observed a strong correlation for childhood cognitive ability with cognitive scores, including the PACC, more than 60 years later. Independent effects of education and socioeconomic position (SEP) were seen. On every PACC subset, sex differences were observed. There were independent associations for Aβ positivity and WMHV with lower PACC scores in cognitively normal participants; there was a correlation for Aβ positivity with poorer nonverbal reasoning. No associations were seen for Aβ positivity and WMHV with sex, childhood cognitive ability, education, or SEP.

“Childhood cognitive ability, education, and SEP all independently influence cognitive performance at age 70, which has implications both for the interpretation and analysis of cognitive data measured in later life,” the authors write.

Florbetapir amyloid tracer was provided by AVID Radiopharmaceuticals.

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