Charles-Olivier Martin1,2, Stéphanie Pontbriand-Drolet1,2, Valérie Daoust1,2, Eric Yamga1,2, Mahnoush Amiri2,3, Lilian Cristine Hübner4, Bernadette Ska1,2
1 Faculty of medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
2 Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
3 École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
4 Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Adress: Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, 4545 Queen-Mary, Montreal, QC, H3W 1W5, Canada.
Education is often claimed to have an effect on the changes in cognitive functions in aging. The goal of this study was to evaluate whether level of education can be associated to discourse comprehension capacities and the related underlying brain activity. Thirty-six elderly participants (18 with a university education, 18 with a high school education) read short stories and answered probes related to microproposition, macroproposition or situation model. Using NIRS, the variation of HbO and HbR concentrations was assessed throughout the task. No differences between the two groups were found at the behavioral level or in hemodynamic responses. According to these results, education level as such does not seem to be related to performance and underlying brain activity. Other factors may play a role, such as reading habits, which were controlled for in this study. Higher education may influence cognition by promoting higher cognitive habits through life, and those habits seem to have a real impact on cognition in aging.