Cognitive decline and sex differences among adults in the United States


  • Women may have greater cognitive reserve, but faster cognitive decline compared with men in the current cohort, which may contribute to sex differences in later-life dementia.

Why this matters

  • The impact of sex on dementia is unclear, with the higher rates observed in women thought to be partially due to their longer life expectancy versus men; and most studies exploring later life trajectories have focused on cardiovascular risk or education rather than cognition.

  • The greater cognitive reserve but faster decline observed in women may suggest a need for women to undergo serial assessment, potentially allowing for earlier detection of cognitive decline in at-risk populations.