The Effects of Selective Survival on Black Adults’ Cognitive Development
Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
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Objectives: The theory of selective survival suggests that possibly around 70-75 years of age, Blacks may display substantive changes in their pattern of cognitive decline. This study examined the age-graded pattern of cognitive decline within older Blacks by describing a trend that characterizes differences in the change of cognitive decline from ages 51.5 to 95.5, and hypothesized that this age-graded pattern is nonlinear. Method: Utilizing 2 waves of longitudinal data from the Baltimore Study of Black Aging, this study used multilevel modeling to test whether the interaction between age and the 3-year study period (time between waves) had a positive effect on changes in inductive reasoning, declarative memory, working memory, and perceptual speed. Results: A significant positive interaction between age and wave was found for inductive reasoning, demonstrating an age-grade pattern of change/decline in cognitive pattern for Blacks aged 51.5-95.4. Simple slope probing via the Johnson-Neyman Technique suggested that Black adults ~64 years and younger experienced significant decline in inductive reasoning across study time, whereas for those older than 63.71, the decline was nonsignificant. No significant age-wave interactions were found for declarative memory, working memory, or perceptual speed. Discussion: Findings suggest a selective survival effect for inductive reasoning ability among Blacks. With decline evident so early, common cognitive intervention programs targeting adults 65+ may come too late for Blacks, signifying the importance and urgency for early health interventions and public policy designed to promote cognitive reserve.
Age-graded pattern; Cognitive change; Early cognitive and educational intervention
Cognition and Perception | Race and Ethnicity
Gamaldo, A. A.,
Thorpe, R. J.,
Allaire, J. C.,
Whitfield, K. E.
The Effects of Selective Survival on Black Adults’ Cognitive Development.
Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 76(8),
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbab003