Cognitive aging in older Black and White persons

Psychol Aging. 2015 Jun;30(2):279-85. doi: 10.1037/pag0000024. Epub 2015 May 11.


During a mean of 5.2 years of annual follow-up, older Black (n = 647) and White (n = 647) persons of equivalent age and education completed a battery of 17 cognitive tests from which composite measures of 5 abilities were derived. Baseline level of each ability was lower in the Black subgroup. Decline in episodic and working memory was not related to race. Decline in semantic memory, perceptual speed, and visuospatial ability was slower in Black persons than White persons, and in semantic memory and perceptual speed this effect was stronger in older than younger participants. Racial differences persisted after adjustment for retest effects. The results suggest subtle cognitive aging differences between Black persons and White persons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / ethnology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Chicago
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / ethnology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • White People / psychology*