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Open AccessArticle

Adult Lifespan Cognitive Variability in the Cross-Sectional Cam-CAN Cohort

1
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Univeristy of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2-0SR, UK
2
Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2-3EB, UK
3
MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge CB2-0SR, UK
4
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle NE4-5PL, UK
5
Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN), University of Cambridge and MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK, www.cam-can.com
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lori E. James
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15516-15530; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121215003
Received: 28 July 2015 / Revised: 27 November 2015 / Accepted: 1 December 2015 / Published: 7 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aging and Cognition)
This study examines variability across the age span in cognitive performance in a cross-sectional, population-based, adult lifespan cohort from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) study (n = 2680). A key question we highlight is whether using measures that are designed to detect age-related cognitive pathology may not be sensitive to, or reflective of, individual variability among younger adults. We present three issues that contribute to the debate for and against age-related increases in variability. Firstly, the need to formally define measures of central tendency and measures of variability. Secondly, in addition to the commonly addressed location-confounding (adjusting for covariates) there may exist changes in measures of variability due to confounder sub-groups. Finally, that increases in spread may be a result of floor or ceiling effects; where the measure is not sensitive enough at all ages. From the Cam-CAN study, a large population-based dataset, we demonstrate the existence of variability-confounding for the immediate episodic memory task; and show that increasing variance with age in our general cognitive measures is driven by a ceiling effect in younger age groups. View Full-Text
Keywords: cognitive variability; adult lifespan; heterogeneity; MMSE; ceiling effects; variance confounders; verbal fluency; episodic memory cognitive variability; adult lifespan; heterogeneity; MMSE; ceiling effects; variance confounders; verbal fluency; episodic memory
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Green, E.; Shafto, M.A.; Matthews, F.E.; Cam-CAN; White, S.R. Adult Lifespan Cognitive Variability in the Cross-Sectional Cam-CAN Cohort. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 15516-15530.

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