Sex differences in cognition in healthy elderly individuals

Cynthia A. Munro, Jessica M. Winicki, David J. Schretlen, Emily W. Gower, Kathleen A. Turano, Beatriz Muñoz, Lisa Keay, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Sheila K. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Sex differences in patterns of cognitive test performance have been attributed to factors, such as sex hormones or sexual dimorphisms in brain structure, that change with normal aging. The current study examined sex differences in patterns of cognitive test performance in healthy elderly individuals. Cognitive test scores of 957 men and women (age 67-89), matched for overall level of cognitive test performance, age, education, and depression scale score, were compared. Men and women were indistinguishable on tests of auditory divided attention, category fluency, and executive functioning. In contrast, women performed better than men on tests of psychomotor speed and verbal learning and memory, whereas men outperformed women on tests of visuoconstruction and visual perception. Our finding that the pattern of sex differences in cognition observed in young adults is observed in old age has implications for future studies of both healthy elderly individuals and of those with cognitive disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-768
Number of pages10
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • Cognitive
  • Elderly
  • Organizational effects
  • Sex differences
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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