Abstract

The purpose of this study was to further analyze the effects of education on cognitive decline during normal aging. An 806-subject sample was taken from five different Mexican regions. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 85 years. Subjects were grouped into four educational levels: illiterate, 1–4, 5–9, and 10 or more years of education, and four age ranges: 16–30, 31–50, 51–65, and 66–85 years. A brief neuropsychological test battery (NEUROPSI), standardized and normalized in Spanish, was administered. The NEUROPSI test battery includes assessment of orientation, attention, memory, language, visuoperceptual abilities, motor skills, and executive functions. In general, test scores were strongly associated with level of educational, and differences among age groups were smaller than differences among education groups. However, there was an interaction between age and education such as that among illiterate individuals scores of participants 31–50 years old were higher than scores of participants 16–30 years old for over 50% of the tests. Different patterns of interaction among educational groups were distinguished. It was concluded that: (a) The course of life-span changes in cognition are affected by education. Among individuals with a low level of education, best neuropsychological test performance is observed at an older age than among higher-educated subjects; and (b) there is not a single relationship between age-related cognitive decline and education, but different patterns may be found, depending upon the specific cognitive domain.