The following is a summary of “A comparison of cognitive performances based on differing rates of DNA methylation GrimAge acceleration among older men and women,” published in the March 2023 issue of the Neurobiology of Aging by O’Shea et al.
Age-related increases in cognitive variability obscure innate distinctions between the sexes. Considering that men and women age at different biological rates, researchers analyzed the results of neuropsychological tests taken by men and women to see if there was a difference between the sexes. About 1921 persons participated in the 2016 data collection wave of the Health and Retirement Study.
By regressing one’s DNA methylation GrimAge clock against their chronological age, researchers calculated a residual that the researcher then utilized to assess the rate at which one ages. One standard deviation below the sex-specific mean rate was established as the threshold for a slow age rate, while one standard deviation above the mean rate was established as the threshold for a rapid age rate. ANCOVAs were used to look for evidence of test-taking variations between the groups.
There were no discernible variations between groups when ages were normalized. On tests of executive function/speed, visual memory, and semantic fluency, slow-aging men performed better than fast-aging women (and vice versa). Compared to men, however, women maintained an advantage in verbal learning and memory across a wide range of demographic variables, including age, education level, and severity of depression. Researchers discuss how these results can inform future studies of gender variations in cognitive decline with age.