Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Smoking and cognitive change from age 11 to age 80
  1. I J Deary1,
  2. A Pattie1,
  3. M D Taylor1,
  4. M C Whiteman1,
  5. J M Starr2,
  6. L J Whalley3
  1. 1Psychology, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, Scotland, UK
  2. 2Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Edinburgh
  3. 3Department of Mental Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Deary;

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Age related cognitive decline affects people’s quality of life and their ability to live independently.1 A recent review stated, “[we] are aware of no studies on the relationship between smoking and cognitive decline associated with normal aging or studies of the effect of smoking on cognition in normally aging individuals.”1 Some previous studies examined smoking in relation to pathological cognitive aging, but lacked cognitive data before the initiation of smoking, and used crude clinical cognitive assessments.2–4 Among middle aged subjects, current smoking was associated with poorer cognitive performance on tasks of psychomotor speed and cognitive flexibility.5 Smoking has been identified as a possible risk factor for accelerated cerebral degenerative changes, cognitive decline, and dementia.6 Here we show that smoking contributes to normal cognitive change from age 11 to age 80.

Participants, methods, and results

The Scottish Mental Survey of 1932 (SMS1932) tested mental ability in people born in 1921 (n = 87 498). The SMS1932’s Moray House test (MHT) was validated against the Stanford Binet test and includes verbal reasoning, numerical, spatial, and …

View Full Text