Mapping Cognitive Decline

In recent years, social and cultural circumstances have been shown to play a significant role in the health, wellness, and development of disease in human populations. In particular, social determinants such as neighborhood location and demographic make-up can affect the health of individual members of such communities. To help demonstrate the effects of structural racism, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood environments on cognitive decline, DataLab geospatial specialist Michele Tobias has partnered with Oanh L. Meyer and research teams from the UC Davis School of Medicine and Florida Atlantic University to create maps and participate in the design of geospatial data workflows to turn patient address data into spatial data for a series of papers on these social determinants of cognitive health in Northern California communities.

One study, entitled Neighborhood racial/ethnic segregation and cognitive decline in older adults, was published in 2021 and features maps portraying the spatial clustering of the non-Hispanic White, Black, and Latino participants in the study. This collaboration has generated two further grant proposals and another paper currently in review. 

Neighborhood racial/ethnic segregation and cognitive decline in older adults (2021)

To explore the role of racial and ethnic segregation on cognitive decline in Black and Latino communities in Northern California, researchers measured cognitive outcomes like episodic memory, semantic memory, and executive function in older non-Hispanic White (NHW), Black, and Latino study participants. In their analysis of the resulting data using the Getis-Ord Gi* statistic, a spatial measure of population clustering, as well as mixed effects multivariable regression models, the researchers found that segregated neighborhoods seem to be differentially associated with cognitive outcomes depending on individual race/ethnicity. 

Figure 1 demonstrates observed distribution of Black populations by census tract and the calculated Getis-Ord Gi* statistic. Figure 2 demonstrates the same for Latino populations.

Figure 1
Figure 2