Latent growth curve analyses of accelerating decline in cognitive abilities in late adulthood

Dev Psychol. 2003 May;39(3):535-50. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.39.3.535.


Latent growth models were applied to data from the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging to discover if the rate of change in cognitive performance increased from middle age to later adulthood. The sample included 590 participants aged 44 to 88 years at first measurement. Data were gathered at 2 follow-up occasions at intervals of 3 years. Cognitive ability was assessed through 11 tests that tapped crystallized, fluid, memory, and spatial abilities and perceptual speed. Results indicated stability for measures of crystallized ability, linear age changes for many cognitive abilities, and a significant acceleration in linear decline after age 65 for measures with a large speed component. Gender differences were found only in mean level, not in rate of decline.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adoption / psychology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Aptitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Twins / psychology