Gender differences in cognitive function may diminish with age. We investigated gender and gender-by-age interactions in relation to verbal learning. Cross-sectional data were available from seven cohorts. Meta-analyses indicated that overall verbal learning favored women. Performance declined with age for both genders and there was little difference between genders in the rate of decline in healthy elderly cohorts. However, impoverished older cohorts with poor health and slightly better educated men showed trends for a male advantage occurring from the age of 70 years onwards. The reverse was seen in cohorts where more women had better education and showed less decline with an older age. Controlling for education in analyses did not affect this systematic bias. Slight demographic differences within cohorts may affect gender sensitive tests with age. However, gender differences are small in the elderly and do not indicate a need for separate gender norms for immediate verbal recall dementia screening tests.
- Verbal learning