Study Creates Definition of “High-Performance Elder”

Collaborative research was published in Dementia & Neuropsychologia and will be a framework for future research on the topic

06/11/2018 - 08h55
Photo: Camila Cunha/PUCRS Archives

Photo: Camila Cunha/PUCRS Archives

Published in Dementia & Neuropsychologia, the article Definição operacionalizada de idosos com alto desempenho cognitivo (Operational Definition of Elders with High Cognitive Performance) arose from the need to determine what is considered an elder with high cognitive performance. Current literature encompasses several definitions and there is no consensus on elders who “resist” cognitive decline. The paper proposes to make this definition.

The research was coordinated by the director of the Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul and PUCRS Senior Vice President Jaderson Costa da Costa, along with his PhD student at PUCRS School of Medicine Wyllians Vendramini Borelli. It also counted on the partnership of Dr. Ricardo Nitrini, from Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and Dr. Paulo Caramelli, from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG).

“This study was performed due to the divergence of nomenclatures and study criteria for cognitive aging. We operationalized a definition based on arguments drawn from all international literature”, contextualizes the doctoral candidate Borelli.

From an analysis of data collected around the world, it has been concluded that, in developing countries, high-performance elders are 75 years or older; they have the memory of a person between 50 and 65 years of age; and other cognitive functions such as attention, language, and fluency expected for the age. Among these criteria, episodic memory is the most relevant because it is particularly vulnerable to aging. Therefore, an elderly person whose memory is kept intact can be considered a “high-performance” elder according to the cut in this research. “We are very pleased to come up with a definition, as this shall be a framework for future studies on elders with high cognitive performance,” says Borelli.

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