january 2011

Alcohol consumption and domain-specific cognitive function in older adults: longitudinal data from the Johns Hopkins Precursors Study

OBJECTIVES: The association of alcohol consumption with performance in different cognitive domains has not been well studied.

METHODS: The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study was used to examine associations between prospectively collected information about alcohol consumption ascertained on multiple occasions starting at age 55 years on average with domain-specific cognition at age 72 years. Cognitive variables measured phonemic and semantic fluency, attention, verbal memory, and global cognition.

RESULTS: Controlling for age, hypertension, smoking status, sex, and other cognitive variables, higher average weekly quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed in midlife were associated with lower phonemic fluency. There were no associations with four other measures of cognitive function. With respect to frequency of alcohol intake, phonemic fluency was significantly better among those who drank three to four alcoholic beverages per week as compared with daily or almost daily drinkers. A measure of global cognition was not associated with alcohol intake at any point over the follow-up.

DISCUSSION: Results suggest that higher alcohol consumption in midlife may impair some components of executive function in late life.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Gross A.L.; Rebok G.W.; Ford D.E.; Chu A.Y.; Gallo J.J.; Liang K.Y.; Meoni L.A.; Shihab H.M.; Wang N.Y.; Klag M.J.
  • Issue

    J.Gerontol.B Psychol.Sci.Soc.Sci. / pages 39-47 / volume 66
  • Published Date

    january 2011