Variety of Enriching Early-Life Activities Linked to Late-Life Cognitive Functioning in Urban Community-Dwelling African Americans

Thomas Chan, Jeanine M. Parisi, Kyle D. Moored, Michelle C. Carlson, Angela Gutchess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The early environment is thought to be a critical period in understanding the cognitive health disparities African Americans face today. Much is known about the positive role enriching environments have in mid- and late-life and the negative function adverse experiences have in childhood; however, little is known about the relationship between enriching childhood experiences and late-life cognition. The current study examines the link between a variety of enriching early-life activities and late-life cognitive functioning in a sample of sociodemographic at-risk older adults. Method: This study used data from African Americans from the Brain and Health Substudy of the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial (M = 67.2, SD = 5.9; N = 93). Participants completed a battery of neuropsychological assessments and a seven-item retrospective inventory of enriching activities before age 13. Results: Findings revealed that a greater enriching early-life activity score was linked to favorable outcomes in educational attainment, processing speed, and executive functioning. Discussion: Results provide promising evidence that enriching early environments are associated with late-life educational and cognitive outcomes. Findings support the cognitive reserve and engagement frameworks, and have implications to extend life-span prevention approaches when tackling age-related cognitive declines, diseases, and health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1355
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume74
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 4 2019

Keywords

  • Cognitive reserve
  • Developmental assets
  • Health disparities
  • Life course
  • Minority research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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