Little is understood about how early-life factors prospectively affect the rate of cognitive decline. We proposed and tested two pathways by which childhood SES determines cognitive decline: first, it modulates stressors that induce the chronic aggravation of the body and brain, and second, it determines one’s cognitive reserve by facilitating or limiting their socio-economic attainment. Based on biomarker data from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 9586), we used Latent Growth Curve Modeling to estimate cognitive decline over 8 years. Higher childhood SES leads to slower cognitive decline, partially due to blood glucose level (Hb1Ac). Hb1Ac is irreverent once the model takes into account socioeconomic attainment in adulthood, which also accounts for the direct effects of childhood SES on the rate of cognitive decline. Findings suggest childhood SES dictates pathway effects on cognitive decline through socio-economic attainment, rather than though the chronic elevation of inflammatory/immunological/metabolic responses to stress.
Presented in Session 161. Life Course Determinants of Aging