The role of cognitive reserve as mediator for addition and multiplication skills in late adulthood

Ilaria Mulas, Marilena Ruiu, Maria Chiara Fastame
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020 June 18

BACKGROUND: The role played by cognitive reserve for the maintenance of numeracy skills in late adulthood is still not sufficiently explored.

AIMS: This study mainly investigated whether cognitive reserve (i.e., vocabulary) mediates on the relationship between non-verbal reasoning and addition and multiplication skills of older individuals. Moreover, the impact of schooling and gender on written calculation was examined, controlling for the effect of cognitive decline.

METHODS: One hundred and six 68-94-year-old participants completed a battery of tests assessing numeracy, executive functions, and cognitive reserve skills.

RESULTS: Significant correlations were found between age, cognitive reserve, numeracy, and executive functions measures. Besides, mediation analyses indicated that cognitive reserve and non-verbal reasoning explain 23% and 29% of the variance in written addition and multiplication conditions, respectively. Finally, more educated individuals performed better numeracy tasks, whereas the solution of additions and multiplications was not impact by gender.

CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive reserve impacts numeracy in late adulthood.

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