How good your high school was affects your cognition 60 years later, US study finds
How good your secondary school was may influence how sharp your cognition skills are later in life, according to new research.
A study of more than 2,200 American adults who attended high school in the 1960s found those who went to higher-quality schools had better cognitive function 60 years later.
The researchers found attending a school with more teachers with graduate training was the clearest predictor of later-life cognition.
School quality was especially important for language skills later in life.
Going to a school with more graduate-trained teachers was approximately equivalent to the cognitive differences between a 70-year-old and someone one to three years older.
The study used a 1960 survey of high school students across the US and follow-up data collected in the Project Talent Aging Study.
The researchers looked at the relationship between six indicators of school quality and measures of cognitive performance including tests of language, memory, and attention.
The participants took part in the tests over the phone, 58 years after they left high school.
The study by researchers at Columbia University was published in the journal Alzheimer's And Dementia Diagnosis Assessment And Disease Monitoring.
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The study's authors said there were many reasons why attending schools with well-trained teachers could affect later-life cognition.
Postdoctoral research scientist Dr Dominika Seblová said: "Instruction provided by more experienced and knowledgeable teachers might be more intellectually stimulating and provide additional neural or cognitive benefits.
"Attending higher-quality schools may also influence life trajectory, leading to university education and greater earnings, which are in turn linked to better cognition in later life."
The researchers examined whether race impacted outcome and found while the link between school quality and late-life cognition was similar in white and Black students, Black participants were more likely to have attended schools of lower quality at the time.