A cross-sectional examination of aging, alcohol use, and cognitive health in the Canadian longitudinal study of aging (CLSA) baseline data
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
Aging and the brain
Cognitive change (lifestyle factors)
Alcohol use & cognition
MetadataShow full item record
Age, sex, and alcohol use have been identified as factors that influence cognition. The present study aimed to replicate and extend these findings by examining the effects of age, sex, alcohol use, and their interactions on cognition in a large sample of older Canadian adults (N=30,097, aged 45-85). Cross-sectional data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging (collected during the first wave of data collection between 2011 and 2015) included a cognitive test battery, allowing for domain-specific analyses. The results supported the following hypotheses: (1) younger adults have higher cognitive test scores than older adults, (2) women score higher than men on tasks assessing memory and verbal fluency, and (3) alcohol use is associated with higher cognitive test scores with a very small effect size. Small interactions occurred between age, sex, and levels of alcohol use. Study limitations and small effect sizes, combined with previous evidence of neurotoxic and other adverse effects of alcohol, suggest that the finding of a cognitive benefit of alcohol use should be interpreted with caution. The large sample, breadth of measures and covariates, age and sex analyses, and consistency of the findings across analyses suggest that further longitudinal and experimental research is warranted.