August 5, 2020

HMM: Baby Boomers Are Experiencing Greater Cognitive Decline Than Previous Generations, Study Finds.

Though people do generally lose a step or two in their brain power as part of the normal aging process, the study found there was an improving trend in cognitive function across generations born before and during World War II. The study had data for the following cohorts: Greatest Generation (born 1890-1923); Early Children of Depression (born 1924-1930); Late Children of Depression (born 1931-1941); War Babies (born 1942-1947); early baby boomers (born 1948–1953); and mid baby boomers (born 1954–1959).

While each generation before the boomers had improved later-life cognition compared to the one before it, the boomers showed a decline compared to war babies, breaking the pattern of improvement.

“It is shocking to see this decline in cognitive functioning among baby boomers after generations of increases in test scores,” study author Hui Zheng, professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, said in a statement released by the university. “But what was most surprising to me is that this decline is seen in all groups: men and women, across all races and ethnicities and across all education, income and wealth levels.”

Zheng also tried to account for age-related declines in cognition by looking only at the scores of people in their early 50s. But again, early baby boomers in their 50s on average had lower test scores than did people from earlier generations in that same age group. That likely means that whatever is causing this drop in cognition, the decline started becoming apparent by the time baby boomers were still middle-aged.

If this study pans out, I’d guess the results are due to increases in obesity and/or drug use.

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