A Hispanic woman gazes out the window

Study Links Discrimination Against Hispanic Adults with Higher Chance of Cognitive Decline

  • Oct 18, 2022

Scientists have long wondered why Black and Latino people suffer higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias than non-Hispanic white people. Now, a new study shows a connection between disparate cognitive decline and experiences of discrimination. 

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, University of California, Davis and Florida State University collaborated to study 1,100 Latino people, most of whom were born in Mexico. They observed the participants for 12 years, recording their experiences of perceived discrimination while evaluating their cognitive function. 

The results revealed that participants who reported experiencing more discrimination were more likely to have poorer mental functioning by the end of the study. There was also a greater chance that those born in the United States would experience a higher cognitive decline, while those who immigrated from another country would more likely display more stable functioning. 

“It is critical that we identify modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and impairment,” said Elizabeth Muñoz, assistant professor of human development and family sciences at UT Austin and lead author of the study. “This study shows that experiencing discrimination because of one's ethnic group or where they were born is a risk factor.”  

While earlier scholarship has identified higher cognitive decline in minority populations, this is the first to directly link dementia with discrimination among Latino adults. 

Read the full article from the College of Natural Sciences