Individual differences in rates of change in cognitive abilities of older persons

Robert S. Wilson, Laurel A Beckett, Lisa L. Barnes, Julie A. Schneider, Julie Bach, Denis A. Evans, David A. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

625 Scopus citations


The authors examined change in cognitive abilities in older Catholic clergy members. For up to 6 years, participants underwent annual clinical evaluations, which included a battery of tests from which summary measures of 7 abilities were derived. On average, decline occurred in each ability and was more rapid in older persons than in younger persons. However, wide individual differences were evident at all ages. Rate of change in a given domain was not strongly related to baseline level of function in that domain but was moderately associated with rates of change in other cognitive domains. The results suggest that change in cognitive function in old age primarily reflects person-specific factors rather than an inevitable developmental process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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