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AAIC 2022 | Impact of discrimination on cognition in the LifeAfter90 study

Kristen George, PhD, MPH, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, shares the findings of an investigation into the impact of major lifetime discrimination on cognitive function and aging in patients aged over 90. Data from the LifeAfter90 (LA90) study was used to study the effects of discrimination, measured using the Major Experiences of Discrimination Scale. LA90 enrolled Asian, Black, Latino, white, and multi-racial individuals aged 90+ and followed them for incident dementia. The analysis of 445 patients revealed three distinct groups: Class 1 were mostly white men experiencing workplace discrimination, Class 2 were white women and non-white participants who reported little/no discrimination, and Class 3 included all non-white participants who reported a mean of 4 discrimination experiences. Compared to Class 2, Class 1 individuals had significantly better executive function and semantic memory. Whereas, Class 3 showed no difference in executive function but significantly worse semantic memory. Rate of cognitive decline did not differ significantly between the groups. Dr George suggests that these findings need to be followed up with investigations into racism beyond measures of discrimination and how best to measure this. This interview took place at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2022 in San Diego, CA.