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2008 Grants - Allen
Impact of Quality of Education on Cognitive Status of African American Elders
Jeffery B. Allen, Ph.D.
Wright State University
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
African Americans who are evaluated for Alzheimer's disease have a much higher rate of false-positive results. At the same time, there is substantial evidence of underreporting of dementia among this population. It is not clear whether the higher rate of diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease among African Americans represents a true difference or if it is the result of bias in the measurement tests.
The number of years of education a person has is a significant predictor of how he or she will perform on a neuropsychological test. However, there is concern that correcting for years of education may not adequately correct for the difference in the quality of education people of different races received. Previous work has attempted to overcome this by assessing the literacy of older adults through reading recognition. But reading recognition is only a small part of overall literacy and some research suggests that reading comprehension is a more accurate measure of the quality of education a person received.
Jeffery B. Allen, Ph.D., and colleagues will investigate the impact of education quality and literacy on the cognitive and adaptive functioning of older African Americans who have a range of cognitive abilities. Researchers will recruit 140 African Americans and Caucasians over the age of 55, including people with dementia and those with normal cognitive abilities. The participants will be formally assessed on reading capacity using both reading comprehension and reading recognition tests. Their cognitive and neuropsychological status will also be tested.
This study may lead to the refinement of tests that will allow for a more timely diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in an underserved population.