Stability of Sex Differences in Cognition in Advanced Old Age: The Role of Education and Attrition

We examined whether patterns of sex differences on tasks of perceptual speed, episodic memory, verbal fluency, and verbal knowledge are maintained during advanced old age. Using incomplete 13-year longitudinal data from participants in the Berlin Aging Study screened for dementia (N = 368; M = 83 years; range 70-100 years at baseline assessment), we estimated sex-specific age trajectories of cognitive change and explored the contributing role of education and attrition. We found that women and men declined virtually in parallel, with no evidence of differential change. After we controlled for age cohort-related differences in education, women outperformed men on tasks in the four cognitive domains. Findings also provide initial evidence that sex differences might be masked by differential patterns of sample attrition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)