Recent large-scale longitudinal aging studies question earlier claims that higher education protects against cognitive decline in older age. In the present study, the authors addressed this issue by determining whether educational level had an attenuating effect on the rate of cognitive change assessed with a broad range of neuropsychological tests in a community sample of 872 healthy individuals aged 49 to 81 years at baseline. The participants were followed for 6 years and were tested 3 times (at baseline and at 3 and 6 years after baseline). Results of linear mixed-model analyses showed that education had no significant effect on cognitive change over time. These results are discussed in terms of the age range of the sample, definition and range of education, cognitive measures used, length of the study and number of consecutive assessments, and confounding effect of health, The findings question the extent of the presumed protective effects of higher education on cognitive decline during normal aging.
van Dijk, K. R. A., van Gerven, P. W. M., van Boxtel, M. P. J., van der Elst, W., & Jolles, J. (2008). No protective effects of education during normal cognitive aging: Results from the 6-year follow-up of the Maastricht aging study. Psychology and Aging, 23(1), 119-130. https://doi.org/10.1037/0882-7922.214.171.124