Examination of the Factor Structure of a Global Cognitive Function Battery across Race and Time

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2016 Jan;22(1):66-75. doi: 10.1017/S1355617715001113. Epub 2015 Nov 13.


Older African Americans tend to perform more poorly on cognitive function tests than older Whites. One possible explanation for their poorer performance is that the tests used to assess cognition may not reflect the same construct in African Americans and Whites. Therefore, we tested measurement invariance, by race and over time, of a structured 18-test cognitive battery used in three epidemiologic cohort studies of diverse older adults. Multi-group confirmatory factor analyses were carried out with full-information maximum likelihood estimation in all models to capture as much information as was present in the observed data. Four different aspects of the data were fit to each model: comparative fit index (CFI), standardized root mean square residuals (SRMR), root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), and model $$\chi ^{2} $$ . We found that the most constrained model fit the data well (CFI=0.950; SRMR=0.051; RMSEA=0.057 (90% confidence interval: 0.056, 0.059); the model $$\chi ^{2} $$ =4600.68 on 862 df), supporting the characterization of this model of cognitive test scores as invariant over time and racial group. These results support the conclusion that the cognitive test battery used in the three studies is invariant across race and time and can be used to assess cognition among African Americans and Whites in longitudinal studies. Furthermore, the lower performance of African Americans on these tests is not due to bias in the tests themselves but rather likely reflect differences in social and environmental experiences over the life course. (JINS, 2016, 22, 66-75).

Keywords: African American; Cognition; Cohort study; Epidemiology; Longitudinal; Measurement invariance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Black or African American
  • Cognition / ethics*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • White People