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The Lothian birth-cohort studies comprise three Cohort studies, combining research into psychology, epidemiology and geriatrics.

Lothian Birth Cohort Study 1921

The original Lothian Birth Cohort Study 1921 investigated childhood intelligence, measured at age 11, and health outcomes in old age. The study comprises a cohort of 551 adults born in the Lothian region of Scotland in 1921. Publications from the study have contributed to the new field of cognitive epidemiology. One important finding from the LBC1921 study was that children with higher IQ scores at age 11 were not relatively better protected against cognitive decline in later life. Instead, they had better cogntitive ability in old age because of the high stability of intelligence across the lifespan.[1]

Lothian Birth Cohort Study 1936

The Lothian Birth Cohort Study 1936 is a similar cohort to the 1921 study, but involves 1091 participants who were born in 1936.[2] The sample size is larger than the 1921 cohort, and more detailed information was collected on those born in 1936.

The 36-day sample

1,208 people born during the first day of alternative months in 1936 took additional intelligence tests, and detailed information about the home environment. This additional data was taken for the following 16 years, and included home visits by a researcher.[3]

Aims and objectives

The Lothian Birth Cohort Studies can provide information about the determinants of cognitive decline, because they have available a measure of premorbid intelligence measured at age 11. They can also be used to provide information about health inequalities in old age, taking childhood factors into consideration.


The LBC1921 study was funded by Several UK research funding councils and other agencies. The LBC1936 study is funded by Age UK and Help the Aged, latterly as part of the Disconnected Mind project.


Professor Ian Deary of the Department of Psychology at University of Edinburgh directs the Lothian Birth Cohort Studies.


  1. Gow, A.J. et al. (2010). Stability and change in intelligence from age 11 to ages 70, 79, and 87: The Lothian birth cohorts of 1921 and 1936. Psychology & Aging 26 (1): 232–240.
  2. Deary, I.J. et al. (2007). The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936: a study to examine influences on cognitive ageing from age 11 to age 70 and beyond. BMC Geriatrics 7 (1): 28+.
  3. Deary, I.J. et al. (2004). The impact of childhood intelligence on later life: Following up the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86 (1): 130–147.

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