Cognitive reserve moderates relation between global cognition and functional status in older adults

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology








Activities of daily living; Aging; Cognition; Cognitive reserve; Education.


The ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) is necessary for independent living. Research suggests that community-dwelling older adults are at risk for experiencing subtle decrements in the performance of IADLs. Neuropsychological tests have been used to account for differences in IADL status. Studies of the relationship between cognitive ability and functional status have produced variable results, however, and cognitive ability appears to be only a moderate predictor. Several studies of normal aging have revealed cognitive and functional benefits of higher cognitive reserve (CR) in healthy, nondemented older adults. The purposes of the present study were to: (a) examine the relationship between global cognitive ability and IADL performance among 53 community-dwelling older adults, and (b) determine whether formal education, as a proxy of CR, significantly moderates this relationship. Consistent with previous findings, global cognitive ability accounted for a considerable portion of variance in IADL performance [ΔR2 =.54; ΔF(2, 53) = 67.96; p <.001]. Additionally, CR modestly but significantly attenuated this relationship [ΔR2 =.044; ΔF(4, 53) = 5.98; p =.018; total R2 =.65]. This finding suggests that community-dwelling older adults with lower levels of formal education may be at greater risk for functional decrements associated with age-related cognitive decline. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

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