Childhood reading problems linked to worse memory function in midlife

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A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health on July 6 has uncovered a notable connection between childhood reading difficulties and cognitive function later in life.

Conducted by Amber John, Ph.D., and her team from University College London, the research aimed to explore the long-term impact of reading problems experienced in childhood on cognitive abilities in later years.

The study focused on a group of 1,726 participants, tracking their cognitive journey from mid-adulthood (age 43) to early old age (age 69).

The researchers assessed the participants’ reading abilities at age 11 and then evaluated their verbal memory and processing speed at ages 43, 53, 60 to 64, and 69.

Additionally, at age 69, the participants underwent the Addenbrooke’s Cognition Examination (ACE), a comprehensive cognitive test.

One of the key findings of the study was that individuals who had reading problems at age 11 displayed poorer verbal memory scores at age 43.

However, these early reading difficulties did not seem to influence the rate of memory decline from ages 43 to 69.

In terms of processing speed, no significant associations were found between childhood reading problems and either the initial level of processing speed at age 43 or its subsequent decline.

Interestingly, those with a history of reading problems were more likely to score below the clinical thresholds on the ACE-III test.

This test assesses various cognitive domains, including attention, memory, verbal fluency, language, and visuospatial abilities.

The study found a correlation between reading problems and lower scores in all these domains at age 69.

Another significant aspect of the study was the role of education. The researchers noted that education partially mediated the relationship between childhood reading problems and later cognitive outcomes.

This suggests that educational experiences and interventions might play a crucial role in mitigating the long-term cognitive impacts of early reading difficulties.

These findings are particularly relevant as they contribute to the understanding of early risk factors for cognitive aging.

By identifying childhood reading problems as a potential early indicator of later cognitive challenges, this research opens up possibilities for early interventions.

Such interventions could help improve cognitive health outcomes for individuals as they age, underlining the importance of addressing reading difficulties in childhood not just for immediate educational outcomes, but for long-term cognitive well-being.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and Coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.

The research findings can be found in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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