Numerous studies outline discrepancies in neuropsychological test profiles in African American and European American samples, despite similarities on major background factors. In our clinical sample of convenience, African American and European American older adults did not diverge on age, years of formal education, or global cognitive impairment. We predicted that ethnic groups would differ on a financial index, reading, and naming measures, but not on form discrimination and health problem-solving tasks. Results showed the expected patterns with the exception of form discrimination, which was lower in the African American group. Ethnicity no longer predicted standing on financial and nonverbal discrimination measures once we adjusted scores to equate for word-reading ability. In contrast, ethnicity status continued to explain significant variance in confrontation naming following adjustment for reading.
When ethnic groups were subdivided by sex, European American men tended to have the highest scores of all four subgroups despite having equivalent levels of education. Therefore, future studies should examine the impact of cognitive activity throughout adulthood on real-world function and neuropsychological test performance among groups defined by both ethnicity and sex.
In conclusion, in African American and European American elders seen for clinical assessment, literacy appeared to be associated with discrepant scores on a measure of real-world financial knowledge and skill, as well as with differences in verbal and nonverbal neuropsychological measures.