1960s study to be compared to new dementia study

July 1, 2018 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Nearly 400 Madison high school graduates took part in aptitude testing in 1960 in response to the country’s concern over Russian dominance in space.

The tests were distributed through Project Talent, a national longitudinal study, three years after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The study emerged in the early 1960s to “diversity of the American high school experience,” according to its website.


Now, a third of those who took part in the test are being asked to participate in a new study on aging and dementia.

Questionnaires were recently mailed to the 128 of the 382 East High School graduates from the classes of 1960-63. Participants will receive a new 28-page questionnaire and will be awarded $20 for participating. They could also receive another $20 when they’re invited to take a digital survey in the next coming weeks.

Researchers hope to identify factors that help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by comparing the test scores from nearly 60 years ago to health status now.

“We have all of these very rich early life measures,” said Susan Lapham, director of Project Talent, run by the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. “Now we want to look at what are the adolescent predictors of later life outcomes.”

Lapham said that if for example good reading skills in youth are found to be linked to a lower risk of dementia in older age, then reading programs could be emphasized more in schools today.

“Early-life brain activity seems to be very important in being a protective factor against dementia,” she said.

Judy Zielke of Madison is among the East graduates. The 75-year-old said she plans to comply, because it’s “going to help my children and my grandchildren.”

The new research is being funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

More than 22,000 are being sought nationwide, 500 of which are from Wisconsin.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj