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Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

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Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

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Hypertension, diabetes, depressive symptoms, and smoking are predictors of cognitive decline in late life. However, it is not known if these risk factors are associated with cognition during midlife orif the associations between these risk factors and cognition vary by race. This longitudinal study hypothesized that (1) the risk factors would predict cognitive decline in midlife, (2)African Americans would have greater cognitive decline than European Americans and East Asians, and (3) there would be stronger associations between risk factors and cognition for African American women compared to European American and East Asian women. Participants (aged 42-52) were European American (n= 1,000), African American (n= 516), and East Asian (n= 437) women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation who were studied for 8 years. Risk factors (i.e., diabetes, hypertension, smoking, and depressive symptoms) and cognitive outcomes (i.e., episodic memory, processing speed, and working memory) were measured at multiple timepoints. Two-level hierarchical linear models tested change in cognition over time controlling for income, education, and age. African Americans had lower scores than European Americans and East Asians on all cognitive outcomes. East Asian smokers had greater episodic memory decline compared to European American smokers. Depressive symptoms did not adversely impact processing speed for East Asian relative to European Americans. Contrary to our hypothesis, hypertension was associated with improved processing speed over time for African Americans compared to European Americans. Racial disparities in cognition were evident for African American women.


First Advisor

Rebecca Ready

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Harvey

Third Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.