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Examination of the common cause account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2010 (English)In: Gerontology, ISSN 0304-324X, E-ISSN 1423-0003, Vol. 56, no 6, 553-563 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The common cause account suggests that there is a third factor causing aging effects in both sensory and cognitive functioning, hypothesized to be the integrity of the central nervous system [Lindenberger and Baltes; Psychol Aging 1994;9:339–355]. Importantly, the common cause account was developed based on cross-sectional data, which are especially biased by cohort effects. However, cohort effects can be controlled for in narrow age cohort (NAC) designs and by longitudinal examination. Findings from the few longitudinal studies that have studied the relation between age-related changes in sensory and cognitive functions are complex and give only partial support to the common cause account.

Objective: The present paper examines the common cause account within a longitudinal setting.

Method: Our study is unique in the sense that it tests the common cause account within a longitudinal NAC design using data from the Betula project. The participants (n = 1,057) were in the age range of 45–90 years.

Results: The findings indicate that the relationship between sensory and memory functioning in both a longitudinal age-heterogeneous and a longitudinal NAC design are much weaker than that detected by an age-heterogeneous cross-sectional design.

Conclusion: The demonstrated weak age-associated sensory-cognitive link raises questions regarding the explanatory value of the common cause account and related theoretical accounts for accounting for age-related cognitive changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 56, no 6, 553-563 p.
Keyword [en]
Common cause account, Sensory functioning, Cognitive functioning
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46039DOI: 10.1159/000279754ISI: 000283548100006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-46039DiVA: diva2:371313
Available from: 2010-11-19 Created: 2010-11-19 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Individual differences in the aging memory: Mediation accounts, moderators, and contextual factors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Individual differences in the aging memory: Mediation accounts, moderators, and contextual factors
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Within the field of cognitive aging, mediation accounts propose that age affects cognitive abilities through a mediator variable. Most of these mediation accounts are developed based on studies with cross-sectional designs. We had access to data from Betula, a longitudinal population-based multi-cohort project, and tested, in Study I, the well-known processing speed account (general age-related slowing of mental processing speed affects cognitive abilities negatively) (Salthouse, 1996). Interestingly, no support was found for the speed account. In Study II, a second mediation theory was tested, the common cause account (Lindenberger & Baltes, 1994). This notion suggests a link between sensory and cognitive abilities, where both abilities decline with age in a similar fashion because of a third factor, a common cause. Again, no support for a major account of cognitive decline was found. In Study III, interactions including vascular health and genetic status (APOE status) as potential interacting predictors of cognitive development were examined. A difference in the distribution of interaction effects on episodic and semantic memory development was found. Study IV, finally, consisted of a comparison of cognitive aging in two very different countries, Bangladesh (Poverty and Health in Ageing) and Sweden (Betula). The findings were surprising since chronological age, in Bangladesh, did not exert much effect on declarative memory in older people, in contrast to Betula and most other aging studies, predominantly performed in the Western world. Results from these four studies are discussed with respect to theoretical implications and methodological considerations. Recommendations for future research focus are made and implications for explanatory models of cognitive aging are elaborated on.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2010. 73 p.
Keyword
cognitive aging, interactions, context, mediation accounts, cross-cultural, longitudinal, individual differences
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-45917 (URN)978-91-7447-158-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-01-14, David Magnusson salen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.Available from: 2010-12-22 Created: 2010-11-16 Last updated: 2010-12-01Bibliographically approved

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