Massive study finds strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in old age

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/02/possible-survivor-bias.html

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#2

It’s because of Fox News.

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#3

So, old rich people are stupid, film at 11.

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#4

it begins when you understand that Santa did not actually love you more

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#5

I guess that explains Trump then.

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#6

There might be something to the idea.

The brain is still a muscle, and all muscles need regular exercise to remain strong and healthy.

I’ve heard tell that many wealthy folks can and often do hire other people to perform various tasks that poor people have no choice but to do for themselves.

If that likelihood extends to mental labor, then not being forced to utilize one’s mind consistently could logically contribute to a gradual decline of one’s mental facilities.

My gram did always used to say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

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#7

Their measure, “verbal fluency,” runs into another study which found that larger vocabularies and in general more knowledge leads to slower recollection. When you consider that their measures of affluence also include “books in the house,” there’s a suggestion that the more appropriate measure is “rich intellectual environment,” which is known to increase all sorts of things whether or not the environment is rich due to affluence (which certainly helps) or not.

This is certainly an interesting study but I’d be cautious about drawing much from it.

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#8

I’m quite impressed that an article so utterly about trump managed to convey such a clear ‘indictment’ of all things trumpity-trump-trump without ever using the word ‘trump’ - well done!

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#9

“Faster drop” is the slope of change, not the overall amount…?

So that means someone who knew forty thousand words and forgot four thousand, would be marked worse than someone who only ever knew ten thousand words and forgot five hundred.

I might still rather have a million words to lose, rather than be word-poorer so I’d only lose a thousand at a slower rate…

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#10

This! It’s right there in the study and article. If at 45 you have a million words and I have 10,000 but at age 103 we both have 9,500 the difference might be barely noticeable in me, but considered catastrophic for you. We’re now both the same level of cognition, you just have more to lose.

Which just says that cognitively, age is a great equaliser. Then again, so is death. Funny how those two work together.

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#11

If you jump higher, your fall is much more dramatic.

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#12

Can you say “regression to the mean”? I thought you could!

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#13

Also, the fluency was specifically measured by “How many different animals can you name”.

That seems like it measures a certain type of education, not overall fluency.

For instance, a working class mechanic could know thousands of work-jargon words that would never be tested or taught to someone with a life spent in a different class.

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#14

bing-bing-bong…

#15

Wow, that seems… very excessively specific.
Actually, isn’t that likely to skew results too? People in rural areas are likely to be poorer, and also to know more different kinds of animal.

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#16

This, too.

It’s a known problem with these tests that never gets addressed. Like counting backwards from 500 by threes. I would have trouble with that now. A mathematician might not, especially if the pattern is recognised on a deeper level (0, 7, 4, 1, 8, 5, 2, 9, 6, 3, 0).

In a couple of generations, the clock test could be a problem, because almost nobody uses analogue devices (or displays of them) anymore.

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#17

Obviously they should have done “How many Star Wars characters can you name? (Your generation’s films only)” but you can’t blame the scientists.

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#18

Also, the IQ tests that had questions about car-commuting or washing machines that were then given in cultures that had different cultural experiences.

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#19

Yes! Was about to write a response to this effect. Glad I checked first in the … what are these called again?

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#20

And a report here in UK yesterday says oldies watching more than 3.5 hours of TV a day are at greater risk of memory loss than those who watch less. Cannot comment on the trustworthiness of the research or the statistics, but does - again - point to the ‘brain is a muscle’ axiom.

Ah - found a link:

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