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J Aging Res. 2012;2012:416132. doi: 10.1155/2012/416132. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

The role of education and intellectual activity on cognition.

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1
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Abstract

Although educational attainment has been consistently related to cognition in adulthood, the mechanisms are still unclear. Early education, and other social learning experiences, may provide the skills, knowledge, and interest to pursue intellectual challenges across the life course. Therefore, cognition in adulthood might reflect continued engagement with cognitively complex environments. Using baseline data from the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial, multiple mediation models were applied to examine the combined and unique contributions of intellectual, social, physical, creative, and passive lifestyle activities on the relationship between education and cognition. Separate models were tested for each cognitive outcome (i.e., reading ability, processing speed, memory). With the exception of memory tasks, findings suggest that education-cognition relations are partially explained by frequent participation in intellectual activities. The association between education and cognition was not completely eliminated, however, suggesting that other factors may drive these associations.

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