A1 Journal article (refereed)
Birth cohort differences in cognitive performance in 75- and 80-year-olds : a comparison of two cohorts over 28 years (2021)

Munukka, M., Koivunen, K., von Bonsdorff, M. B., Sipilä, S., Portegijs, E., Ruoppila, I., & Rantanen, T. (2021). Birth cohort differences in cognitive performance in 75- and 80-year-olds : a comparison of two cohorts over 28 years. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 33(1), 57-65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01702-0

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Munukka, Matti; Koivunen, Kaisa; von Bonsdorff, Mikaela B.; Sipilä, Sarianna; Portegijs, Erja; Ruoppila, Isto; Rantanen, Taina

Journal or series: Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

ISSN: 1594-0667

eISSN: 1720-8319

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 33

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 57-65

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: Italy

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01702-0

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71799


To evaluate cohort differences in cognitive performance in older men and women born and assessed 28 years apart.

Data in this study were drawn from two age-homogeneous cohorts measured in the same laboratory using the same standardized cognitive performance tests. Participants in the first cohort were born in 1910 and 1914 and assessed in 1989–1990 (Evergreen project, n = 500). Participants in the second cohort were born in 1938 or 1939 and 1942 or 1943 and assessed in 2017–2018 (Evergreen II, n = 724). Participants in both cohorts were assessed at age 75 and 80 years and were recruited from the population register. Cognitive performance was measured using the Digit Span test from the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), Digit Symbol test from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and phonemic Verbal Fluency test from the Schaie-Thurstone Adult Mental Abilities Test. Reaction time assessing motor and mental responses was measured with a simple finger movement task, followed by a complex finger movement task. T-tests were used to study cohort differences and linear regression models to study possible factors underlying differences.

We found statistically significant cohort differences in all the cognitive performance tests, except for the digit span test and simple movement task in men, the later-born cohort performing better in all the measured outcomes.

The results of this study provide strong evidence that cognitive performance is better in more recent cohorts of older people compared to their counterparts measured 28 years earlier.

Keywords: ageing; cognitive processes; reactions; cohort study

Free keywords: cognitive performance; digit span test; digit symbol test; verbal fluency test; reaction time

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 17:55