Gender differences in level and change in cognitive functioning: Results from the longitudinal aging study Amsterdam.

ABSTRACT. Background: Gender differences in level of cognitive functioning are frequently observed, but little is known about gender differences in rate of decline of cognitive functioning. Objective: The present study aims to describe variability between and within men and women specified for four different cognitive abilities at baseline, and variability in change in these abilities among men and women over 6 years. Methods: We started with a study sample of 1,132 men and 1,175 women, with a measurement interval of 3 years. At wave 3 of the study, 1,552 of the respondents from wave 1 were still present. Differences in level and rate of change were estimated with latent change models. Results: Women have higher levels of memory functioning then men, but no gender differences were observed for speed or non- verbal reasoning changes. Conclusion: In spite of evidence for a stronger age- related atrophy of the brain structure of men, no gender differences in decline of cognitive functions could be observed.