UCLA scientists have found that differences in socioeconomic status were less important relative to rates of cognitive decline than the propensity to enhance baseline performance by challenging oneself in mental tasks over a lifetime.
The findings support the concept of 'cognitive reserve' as a high-functioning shield helping to avert decline in some cases. The most statistically significant indicator of cognitive reserve in older populations in studies to date has been level of educational achievement. It is theorized that Cognitive reserve can be amplified through education and also through brain exercises that focus on different areas of cognitive function, tests, games, social activities, music, and a regimen of cross-training so the brain is continually developing new pathways. Learning a new language preferably of a completely different grammar, symbology, and ideation is one such example, as opposed to perhaps, learning Italian if you already know Spanish.
The findings also support the imperative to find universal means, or as close to universal means as possible, of assessing and enhancing cognitive performance across a variety of cultural settings - one of the goals in the formation of Elementary Cognitive Tasks (ECTs).
Publication: American Journal of Epidemiology