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The Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936 are follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947. The surveys had, respectively, tested the intelligence of almost every child born in 1921 or 1936 and attending school in Scotland in the month of June in those years. Therefore, tracing, recruiting and re-testing people who had taken part in the Surveys offered a rare opportunity to examine the distribution and causes of cognitive ageing across most of the human life course. The studies described here were initially set up to study determinants of non-pathological cognitive ageing; i.e. the ageing of cognitive functions largely in the normal range, and not principally dementia or other pathological cognitive disorders.

Please use the menu to the left to find out more about the studies. Additionally the publication ’Cohort profile: The Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936’ in the International Journal of Epidemiology can be accessed here.

Latest News

On Saturday 7 September 2019, almost 300 members of the Lothian Birth Cohorts reunited in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to celebrate 20 years of continuous research into healthy ageing.

The 2019 reunion took place twenty years to the day after the first Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 participant was tested on 7 September 1999.

By the 20th anniversary meeting, the Lothian Birth Cohorts’ data had produced 512 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.

The 2019 gathering celebrated the participants’ commitment and dedication to science with contributions from the lead scientists – including the Lothian Birth Cohorts’ Director, Professor Ian Deary, and his collaborators. Professor Deary said: “The reunion was a thank you for the cohorts’ 20 years of faithful contributions, and an opportunity to share our most recent findings. The contribution of the group is invaluable in advancing our understanding of how the brain and thinking skills age, and healthy ageing more generally. I and the team are grateful to, and humbled by, the participants for their generosity and enthusiasm for the project.”

Download the reunion brochure to read about the project, its history and findings.

Listen to a BBC Brainwaves podcast with Pennie Latin in conversation with the project director Ian Deary, researcher Alison Pattie, and three of our Lothian Birth Cohorts participants, Ian, Margaret and Meryn.