Depressive symptoms are more strongly related to executive functioning and episodic memory among African American compared with non-Hispanic White older adults

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2014 Nov;29(7):663-9. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acu045. Epub 2014 Oct 3.


We examined whether the reserve capacity model can be extended to cognitive outcomes among older African Americans. Two hundred and ninety-two non-Hispanic Whites and 37 African Americans over age 54 participated in the normative study for the NIH Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function. Multiple-group path analysis showed that associations between depressive symptoms and cognition differed by race, independent of age, education, reading level, income, health, and recruitment site. Depressive symptoms were associated with slowed processing speed among Whites and worse task-switching, inhibition, and episodic memory among African Americans. African Americans may be more vulnerable to negative effects of depression on cognition than non-Hispanic Whites. Further research is needed to explicate the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of this greater vulnerability.

Keywords: Cross-cultural/minority; Depression; Elderly/geriatrics/aging; Executive functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / ethnology*
  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Efficacy
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Whites / ethnology