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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2014 Aug;20(7):756-63. doi: 10.1017/S1355617714000423. Epub 2014 May 19.

Relationship between depressive symptoms and cognition in older, non-demented African Americans.

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1Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain,College of Physicians and Surgeons,Columbia University,New York,New York.
5North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University,Department of Biology,Greensboro,North Carolina.
6North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University,Dean,College of Arts and Sciences,Greensboro,North Carolina.
7Center for Human Genetics Research,Vanderbilt University,Nashville,Tennessee.
8John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics,Miller School of Medicine,University of Miami,Miami,Florida.


Knowledge of the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognition in older adults has primarily come from studies of clinically depressed, functionally impaired or cognitively impaired individuals, and in predominately White samples. Limited minority representation in depression research exposes the need to examine these associations in more ethnic/racially diverse populations. We sought to examine the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognition in a sample of non-demented older African Americans recruited from surrounding U.S. cities of New York, Greensboro, Miami, and Nashville (N=944). Depressive symptoms were evaluated with the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Cognition was evaluated with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Test scores were summarized into attention, executive function, memory, language, and processing speed composites. Controlling for age, education, reading level, and sex, African American older adults who endorsed more symptoms obtained significantly lower scores on measures of memory, language, processing speed, and executive functioning. Further investigation of the causal pathway underlying this association, as well as potential mediators of the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive test performance among older African Americans, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, may offer potential avenues for intervention.

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