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Canada’s largest study on aging releases first report on cognition

Published: January 25, 2017

In its first report released on memory and cognition, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) has shown the performance of CLSA participants is similar to what has been observed in previous studies of cognition conducted in both French and English, lending support to the use of the CLSA cognitive measures in large, epidemiological studies of aging.

The research, published in the The Clinical Neuropsychologist, found in a preliminary assessment of 20,000 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 that cognitive ability declined gradually across the youngest age group to the oldest age group. The results were no different for men or women or whether they were English- or French-speaking.  

“These preliminary findings underscore the potential of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging,” said Dr. Holly Tuokko, a professor of psychology at the University of Victoria and lead author of the study. “What we have observed is that the CLSA cognitive measures are generating results that are comparable to previous studies, but with far larger sample sizes.”

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is the largest and most comprehensive study on health and aging in Canada, following more than 50,000 individuals, aged 45 and 85 at the time of recruitment, for 20-year period. The study collects data through telephone interviews, in-home interviews and physical assessments. Participants take part in several standardized, performance-based tests of memory and cognitive function.

“Additional examinations of the properties of the cognitive measures within the CLSA will enhance our understanding of their strengths,” said Dr. Martine Simard, a professor of psychology at Université Laval and a co-author of the study. “But there are indications the CLSA cognitive data may provide the best comparison data for adult Canadians generated to date and may also be applicable more broadly.”

The national scope and long-term nature of the CLSA will also prove vital to researchers who are investigating the onset of cognitive impairment, the pathways of cognitive impairment to dementia, as well as the links between psychological, biological, health, lifestyle and social factors and their impact on aging.

Funding for this research was provided by the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Cognition data from more than 51,000 CLSA participants are now available for access by researchers. To learn more about the CLSA research platform and accessing the data, click here.

To view the scientific publication of these findings, visit: The French translation of the paper is available here:  


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