Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some sentences you read and assume they're nonsense.

Others make you go back again and again, just so you can check whether you've read them correctly.

I just encountered one: 

There is increasing evidence that socioeconomic conditions early in life have an impact on cognitive functioning in later life.

I looked at that and thought: Hmm, you're going to tell me that those materially disadvantaged at an early age end up suffering faster cognitive decline.

But then, in the same paragraph, I read this: 

Those from more affluent households show higher levels of fluid intelligence in old age and experience stronger decline over time in executive functions.

I came from refugee poor, so this threatened to cheer me up.

The study from which these sentences came was performed by researchers at the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe.

They examined 24,066 people aged 50-96. 

They looked at their circumstances when they were ten years old. Then they looked at their cognitive outcomes later in life.

What they concluded was that those who had enjoyed the most "early affluence" demonstrated cognitive slowing at 1.6 times the rate of those most lacking an early experience of a nice house and, surprisingly, lots of books around the house.

The wealthier types did, though, start with a higher level of cognitive ability in the first place.

The researchers looked at two different cognitive skills: delayed recall (remembering words from a list of ten) and verbal fluency.

While the delayed recall showed no marked difference across early socioeconomic circumstances, verbal fluency -- the test involved uttering the names of animals -- showed considerable variance.

The researchers did add a further kink: 

The faster decline for people with more advantaged CSC [childhood socioeconomic conditions] becomes less pronounced when we additionally control for adulthood socioeconomic conditions and current levels of physical activity, depressive symptoms, and partner status.

Many, of course, will rush not to one judgment, but to many.

When I read such research, I end up feeling that you never know what might happen to you in life, but you certainly shouldn't let your childhood determine everything.

And I've said that to my psychologist several times. 

Well, several psychologists.

Published on: Mar 6, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.