Dement Neurocogn Disord.  2017 Mar;16(1):20-25. 10.12779/dnd.2017.16.1.20.

Vocabulary Knowledge is Not a Predictor of General Cognitive Functioning in Elderly People with Very Low Educational Attainment

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. jychey@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Office of Humanitarian & Public Healthcare Support, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Vocabulary knowledge is used as a representative index of general intelligence, and is regarded as a marker for cognitive reserve in elderly people. However, vocabulary knowledge mainly depends on formal education, hence, it may not fully represent cognitive functioning in elderly people with poor educational backgrounds. Herein, we investigated whether vocabulary knowledge is a measure of general cognitive ability among normal elderly people with few years of formal education.
METHODS
The association between vocabulary knowledge and general cognitive functioning was compared between 35 elderly females with very low educational attainment and 68 elderly females with higher education.
RESULTS
The vocabulary knowledge was a significant predictor of general cognitive functioning in elderly individuals with more than primary education, even after controlling the effects of age and years of education. However, it was not a significant predictor of general cognitive functioning in elderly individuals with very low educational attainment.
CONCLUSIONS
Vocabulary assessment was effective in estimating general cognitive functioning in elderly individuals who received ≥6 years of education. Our findings suggested that vocabulary knowledge may not be an effective proxy of premorbid intelligence or cognitive reserve in people who have not completed elementary schooling.

Keyword

vocabulary knowledge; premorbid intelligence; cognitive aging; cognitive reserve; education

MeSH Terms

Aged*
Cognitive Aging
Cognitive Reserve
Education
Female
Humans
Intelligence
Proxy
Vocabulary*
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