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  • 1. Finkel, D.
    et al.
    Sternäng, Ola
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Jönköping University, Sweden.
    Wahlin, Å.
    Longitudinal trends in functional biological age: Impact of lifestyle factors2015In: The Gerontologist, ISSN 0016-9013, E-ISSN 1758-5341, Vol. 55, no Suppl 2, p. 61-61Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Composites of measures of biological aging (e.g., Anstey and colleagues, Wahlin and colleagues) can be more meaningful than simple chronological age and provide insights into the aging process and its covariates. The Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging provides longitudinal data on measures of vision, hearing, gait, grip strength, and lung function from 642 individuals ranging in age from 47 to 87 at wave 1. Individuals were included who participated in at least one of 5 measurement waves covering 16 years of follow-up; 69% participated in at least 3 waves. The 5 measures are combined and transformed to T-scores to create FBioAge. A two-slope age-based latent growth curve model (LGCM) was applied to the data (note that results for a time-based LGCM were similar). Phenotypic analyses indicated an inflection point in rates of change at age 75: the rate of increase in FBioAge was twice as fast after age 75, compared with prior to age 75. Analysis of the impact of several covariates on the LGCM parameters indicated that most impacted the intercept, only. Thus, on average higher (i.e., older) FBioAge was indicated for women, individuals with less education, smokers, drinkers, individuals who reported more illnesses, and individuals who reported poorer subjective health. Two variables impact the rate of change in FBioAge. Faster rate of change was predictive of mortality and childhood SES impacted the rate of change prior to age 75, only. In future research we will examine how FBioAge relates longitudinally to aging-sensitive functions, such as cognitive abilities.

  • 2. Finkel, Deborah
    et al.
    Sternäng, Ola
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Cognitive psychology. Jönköping University, Sweden.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Genetic and Environmental Influences on Longitudinal Trajectories of Functional Biological Age: Comparisons Across Gender2017In: Behavior Genetics, ISSN 0001-8244, E-ISSN 1573-3297, Vol. 47, no 4, p. 375-382Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We used an alternate age variable, functional biological age (fBioAge), which was based on performance on functional body measures. The aim was to examine development of fBioAge across the adult life span, and to also examine potential gender differences and genetic and environmental influences on change with age. We used longitudinal data (n = 740; chronological age (ChronAge) range 45-85 at baseline) from the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. The rate of increase in fBioAge was twice as fast after ChronAge 75 than before. fBioAge was higher in women than in men. fBioAge was fairly equally influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Whereas the rate of ChronAge cannot vary across time, gender, or individual, our analyses demonstrate that fBioAge does capture these within and between individual differences in aging, providing advantages for fBioAge in the study of aging effects.

  • 3.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sternäng, Ola
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Rönnlund, Michael
    Umeå universitet.
    Nyberg, Lars
    Umeå universitet.
    Challenging the notion of an early-onset of cognitive decline2009In: Neurobiology of Aging, ISSN 0197-4580, E-ISSN 1558-1497, Vol. 30, no 4, p. 521-524Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Salthouse claims that cognitive aging starts around 20 years of age. The basis for this claim is cross-sectional data. He dismisses longitudinal data, which typically show the cognitive decline to start much later, around 60 years of age. He states that longitudinal data cannot be trusted because they are flawed. There is a confounding between the effects of maturation and retest effects. We challenge Salthouse's strong claim on four accounts.

  • 4. Rönnberg, Jerker
    et al.
    Danielsson, Henrik
    Rudner, Mary
    Arlinger, Stig
    Sternäng, Ola
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Hearing Loss Is Negatively Related to Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory but Not to Short-Term Memory2011In: Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, ISSN 1092-4388, E-ISSN 1558-9102, Vol. 54, no 2, p. 705-726Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose: To test the relationship between degree of hearing loss and different memory systems in hearing aid users. Method: Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to study the relationship between auditory and visual acuity and different cognitive and memory functions in an age-hetereogenous subsample of 160 hearing aid users without dementia, drawn from the Swedish prospective cohort aging study known as Betula (L.-G. Nilsson et al., 1997). Results: Hearing loss was selectively and negatively related to episodic and semantic long-term memory (LTM) but not short-term memory (STM) performance. This held true for both ears, even when age was accounted for. Visual acuity alone, or in combination with auditory acuity, did not contribute to any acceptable SEM solution. Conclusions: The overall relationships between hearing loss and memory systems were predicted by the ease of language understanding model (J. Rönnberg, 2003), but the exact mechanisms of episodic memory decline in hearing aid users (i.e., mismatch/disuse, attentional resources, or information degradation) remain open for further experiments. The hearing aid industry should strive to design signal processing algorithms that are cognition friendly.

  • 5.
    Sternäng, Ola
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Individual differences in the aging memory: Mediation accounts, moderators, and contextual factors2010Doctoral 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.

     

  • 6.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Jonsson, Bert
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Nyberg, Lars
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Examination of the common cause account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design2010In: Gerontology, ISSN 0304-324X, E-ISSN 1423-0003, Vol. 56, no 6, p. 553-563Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 7.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Kabir, Zarina N.
    Karolinska Institutet.
    Hamadani, Jena D.
    International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), Dhaka, Bangladesh.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    A cross-cultural perspective on aging and memory: Comparisons between Bangladesh and Sweden2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most studies on cognitive aging have been conducted in high-income countries (mainly on Western populations). The main aim of this study was to compare the relative importance of predictors of episodic and semantic memory performance in older people (≥60 years) from Bangladesh (n = 400) and Sweden (n = 1,098). Hierarchical regression models were used in order to study the importance of some commonly used predictors in the two countries. A main finding was that variations in age did not have much impact on episodic and semantic memory performance in Bangladesh. Instead, sex was a strong predictor for semantic memory performance. In Sweden this pattern was reversed. In the Western world, chronological age is believed to be strongly associated with memory performance in cross-sectional studies, particularly in people greater than 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 the fact 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.

  • 8.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    ApoE and vascular health synergy effects on cognitive functioning.2006In: The 11th Cognitive Aging Conference: Atlanta, GA, USA., 2006Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    The APOE gene is a determinant for the body’s transportation of cholesterol. APOE status, involving any combination of allele ε4, is also a known risk factor for developing vascular disorders and, although disputed, has a minor impact on cognitive functioning. Recent research have found that APOE ε4 status might also act as a vulnerability factor, and that the combination of APOE ε4 and certain diseases can cause a larger than expected impairment in cognitive functioning. Further, the impact of vascular health on cognitive functioning is well documented, and a main mechanism for this is variation in levels of cholesterol. The present study, which is based on data from the Betula project, examines how the interaction of APOE and vascular health (levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure) influences performance on memory, verbal and visuospatial tasks. The results are also discussed in the perspective of age and gender differences in cognitive functioning.

  • 9.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Kabir, Zarina Nahar
    Hamadani, Jena Derakhshani
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    A cross-cultural view on cognitive aging: Comparisons between Bangladesh and SwedenManuscript (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.

     

  • 10.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    What Is the Role of Apolipoprotein E for Cognitive Functioning Across the Lifespan?2011In: Biological Psychiatry, ISSN 0006-3223, E-ISSN 1873-2402, Vol. 70, no 2, p. 109-110Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigated APOE genotype and lipid levels in relation to some cognitive variables in children. However, there are other relevant cognitive variables remaining for study, such as executive functions and long-term declarative memory (episodic and semantic memory), often studied in connection to APOE in older adults. Design is also crucial to understand how the APOE gene affects cognitive functions across the lifespan. Longitudinal studies  (such as ALSPAC) are important in this respect. Taylor et al. found no evidence that the negative effects on cognitive functioning of the APOE ε4 allele appear as early as in the age span 7–14 years. Most studies of APOE involve older people, and therefore, the current study by Taylor et al. (3) on children represents a piece of important information that adds to the total picture of the role of APOE during the lifespan. Further research is needed to understand why the effects of APOE ε4 change from childhood to older age.

  • 11.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Adolfsson, Rolf
    Stockholm Brain Institute.
    Sleegers, Kristel
    Umeå universitet.
    Van Broeckhoven, Christine
    Umeå universitet.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    APOE and lipid level synergy effects on declarative memory functioning in adulthood2009In: European Psychologist, ISSN 1016-9040, E-ISSN 1878-531X, Vol. 14, no 4, p. 268-278Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 12.
    Sternäng, Ola
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wahlin, Åke
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Nilsson, Lars-Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Examination of the processing speed account in a population-based longitudinal study with narrow age cohort design2008In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 49, no 5, p. 419-428Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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