Forget sudoku: rate of old-age memory loss and mental decline set for life by age of eight
Memory loss and mental decline in old age is largely decided by the age of eight, a new study has shown.
Scientists at University College London tested the memory and thinking skills of Britons in their late 60s and 70s and compared the results to similar tests that they took as schoolchildren.
They found that someone whose cognitive performance was in the top 25pc as a child was likely to remain in the top 25pc at age 70. Spending longer in education also seemed to be protective, with participants who completed a university degree scoring around 16pc higher than participants who left school before the age of 16.
Having a professional rather than manual job was also related to a slight improvement in thinking and memory performance in older people. Those who had worked in professional jobs tended to recall an average of 12 details from a short story, compared with 11 for those who had worked in manual jobs.
The study involved 502 people born during the same week in 1946 and took cognitive tests when they were eight.
Between the ages of 69 and 71, they took tests again. One involved looking at various arrangements of geometric shapes and identifying the missing piece from five options.
Other tests evaluated skills such as memory, attention, orientation and language.