Publication Date:
Author(s): Shyuan Tan, Shyuan Ching Tan, Shyuan Ching Tan, Alyssa A. Gamaldo, Timothy R. Brick, Roland Thorpe, Jr., Roland Thorpe, Jason Allaire, Keith Whitfield
Publisher: Gerontological Society of America
Publication Type: Journal Article
Journal Title: Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume: 76
Issue: 8
Page Range: 1489-1498

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.