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Individual differences in the aging memory: Mediation accounts, moderators, and contextual factors
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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 [en]
cognitive aging, interactions, context, mediation accounts, cross-cultural, longitudinal, individual differences
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-45917ISBN: 978-91-7447-158-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-45917DiVA: diva2:373133
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
List of papers
1. Examination of the processing speed account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Examination of the processing speed account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design
2008 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 49, no 5, 419-428 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The processing speed account suggests that general slowing of mental processing speed results in an overall decline, especially age-related decline, in other cognitive domains. Support for the speed account comes mainly from cross-sectional studies with participants that vary in age (age-heterogeneous samples). This study investigated how well variations in processing speed predict change of episodic recall in a longitudinal framework and examined with the Narrow Age Cohort (NAC) design. Data were obtained from Betula, a population-based longitudinal study. Both 5-year (n= 490; Time 3 – Time 4) and 10-year follow-up results (n= 608; Time 1 – Time 3) were used. In both samples, which were subjected to prospective dementia screening, we found considerably weaker associations in longitudinal data compared to cross-sectional, and also weaker associations in age-homogeneous than in age-heterogeneous samples. The results provide little support for the speed account.

Keyword
cognitive aging, memory, processing speed, longitudinal, cohort
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-15081 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00663.x (DOI)000259228400004 ()
Note
The Betula Longitudinal Project is supported by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (1988-0082:17), Swedish Council for Planning and Coordination of Research (D1988-0092, D1989-0115, D1990-0074, D1991-0258, D1992-0143, D1997-0756, D1997-1841, D1999-0739, and B1999-474), Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (F377/1988-2000), and the Swedish Council for Social Research (1988-1990:88-0082, and 311/1991-2000). Åke Wahlin was funded by a grant from the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Dnr 421-2002-2575). Ola Sternäng was supported by grants from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and from the Foundation Lars Hiertas Minne.Available from: 2008-11-20 Created: 2008-11-20 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Examination of the common cause account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Examination of the common cause account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design
Show others...
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.

Keyword
Common cause account, Sensory functioning, Cognitive functioning
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46039 (URN)10.1159/000279754 (DOI)000283548100006 ()
Available from: 2010-11-19 Created: 2010-11-19 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. APOE and lipid level synergy effects on declarative memory functioning in adulthood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>APOE and lipid level synergy effects on declarative memory functioning in adulthood
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2009 (English)In: European Psychologist, ISSN 1016-9040, E-ISSN 1878-531X, Vol. 14, no 4, 268-278 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study of the general population examined interactions of the gene Apolipoprotein E (APOE) and/or lipid levels, and their effects on cognitive change. A MANCOVA model based on longitudinal data (with a 5 year follow-up) obtained from the Betula study (n = 1777; age 35–85 years) was used. The significant two-way and three-way interaction effects detected were equally frequent in tests of episodic and semantic memory. A difference in the distribution of interaction effects on episodic and semantic memory decline was also found. Men demonstrated the worst cognitive development as shown by significant two-way interaction effects on episodic memory whereas two-way interaction effects among women resulted in the worst semantic memory development. This result is discussed from the viewpoint that tests of episodic and semantic memory have different cognitive demands. This study focuses on how interaction effects of the gene APOE and vascular risk factors (such as lipid levels) affect cognitive abilities and also whether the interaction effects vary across age and sex. In this study, the main focus is on interaction effects as a phenomenon in itself.

Keyword
interaction effects, memory, APOE, lipids, longitudinal
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-34540 (URN)10.1027/1016-9040.14.4.268 (DOI)000272840300002 ()
Projects
Betulaprojektet
Note
The Betula Longitudinal Project is supported by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (1988–0082:17), Swedish Council for Planning and Coordination of Research (D1988-0092, D1989-0115, D1990- 0074, D1991-0258, D1992-0143, D1997-0756, D1997- 1841, D1999-0739, and B1999-474), Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (F377/1988-2000), and the Swedish Council for Social Research (1988–1990: 88-0082, and 311/1991–2000). Ola Sternäng was supported by grants from Helge Ax:son Johnson Foundation and from Elisabeth and Herman Rhodin’s Foundation. Åke Wahlin was funded by a grant from Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Dnr 421-2007-1616). Genotyping was supported in part by the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Program (IAP P6/43) of the Belgian Science Policy Office, the Fund for Scientific Research –Flanders (FWOF), and the Stichting voor Alzheimer Onderzoek, Belgium.Available from: 2010-01-10 Created: 2010-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
4. A cross-cultural view on cognitive aging: Comparisons between Bangladesh and Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A cross-cultural view on cognitive aging: Comparisons between Bangladesh and Sweden
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Most studies on cognitive aging have been conducted in economically developed countries (mainly on Western populations). It is of importance to test the generalizability of obtained results with studies in cultural settings with different living conditions. However, the share of research conducted in cross-cultural cognitive aging is rather small, especially on memory. The main aim of this study was to compare relative importance of some commonly used predictors (age, sex, years of education, systolic blood pressure, vascular diseases, sensory-motor functioning, and processing speed) for episodic and semantic memory performance in older people (≥ 60 years) from Bangladesh (n = 400) and Sweden (n = 1098), respectively.

A main finding was that age variations did not have as much impact on episodic and semantic memory performance in Bangladesh as in Sweden, and sex was of greater importance for semantic memory performance in Bangladesh. In the western world, chronological age is believed to be strongly associated with memory performance in cross-sectional studies, especially in people above 60 years of age. This study indicates that the difference between the two countries in relative importance of the predictors included in this study is mainly due to that years of education is connected to age in the western world but to sex in Bangladesh. It remains to be examined whether earlier selective survival is also responsible for the relative absence of cognitive age differences in Bangladesh.

 

Keyword
cognitive aging, cross-cultural, episodic memory, semantic memory, selective survival
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-47028 (URN)
Available from: 2010-11-26 Created: 2010-11-26 Last updated: 2010-11-30Bibliographically approved

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