1936 Birth Cohort

1936 Birth Cohort

On 4th June 1947, as part of the Scottish Mental Survey, every Scottish schoolchild born in 1936 sat the same test of mental ability: the Moray House Test. In 1997, Professor Lawrence Whalley discovered the Scottish Mental Survey test records at the Scottish Council for Research in Education in Edinburgh and began to trace people who had sat the test in Aberdeen.

The Aberdeen Birth Cohort study was established to follow-up this cohort of individuals. Scotland is the only country in the world to have tested an entire age group in its mental abilities, thus providing a unique opportunity to track the effects of ageing, allowing researchers to compare intelligence in childhood and later life, looking at how the brain ages and the factors affecting this.

For the latest on the '36 cohort, read the newsletter.

1936s Participants

We are currently undertaking the 4th wave in this important long-term study. Information gathered from this wave will continue to help decipher how the human mind and brain ages. Details of this current stage can be seen by clicking on Information Sheet. To find out more about the people involved with the study please see Study Team tab below.

We are not trying to recruit any new people to the study. However we are contacting those men and women who have helped us before as we hope that they will be able to continue to take part in this new phase of the study. You will be familiar with many of the measures we are carrying out as these are repeated to map out how they change within individuals over time.

These include various neuropsychological tests of cognitive function and brain imaging, along with various measures of your physical fitness. There are also some new measures being taken at this new wave.

Study team
Contact us

Dr Chris Mcneil
Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936 Study

University of Aberdeen
Lilian Sutton Building
University of Aberdeen
AB25 2ZD

Email: c.mcneil@abdn.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1224 438353

For Researchers

A Steering Committee has been set up which is responsible for the future preservation of the access to the Aberdeen Birth Cohort databases. If you are interested in accessing data from the studies further details can be found in Data Access tab below.

For an outline of what we have found so far please see our Publications tab below.

Data access

Regulations for access are as follows:

i. All requests for access must be made through the Database Steering Committee in order to ensure that the proposed use of the data conforms to accepted scientific standards in terms of methodology, confidentiality and ethics.

ii. Access will only be available to applicants who, in the opinion of the Committee, are bona fide research workers. The Committee will advise whether Research Ethics Committee approval is required prior to granting access to data. Applicants will be required to complete and sign the application form and, if necessary, forward a copy of their letter of approval from the Ethics Committee.

iii. Copies of the complete dataset even without identifiable items will only be supplied under exceptional circumstances.

iv. Data will usually be provided on requested items in an extract file on disk or sent via electronic mail. Such an extract file will not include identifiable data. When an applicant for data has provided identification data, the extract file will contain the requestor's identifiers and the additional items requested from the Databank. Such files will be encrypted. No data can be transferred to a third party without written permission from the Steering Committee. The data can only be used for the specified project. The Steering Committee may request that copies of data are destroyed once analyses are complete.

v. Processing and use of data must comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act (1998). All applicants will be required to forward any relevant papers using the supplied data to the Database Steering Committee prior to submission for publication in order to ensure factual accuracy and correct interpretation of the material and to ensure appropriate acknowledgement to the Database Investigators.

vi. The Database Steering Committee, as far as possible, will encourage collaborative research with one or more members or designated colleagues in order to facilitate accurate use and interpretation of the data.

vii. Charges for supplying data will depend on several factors:

  • origin of the request
  • whether there has been a previous extraction for the same project
  • the complexity of the extraction requested

Request Forms

Data request forms are available as a Word file. Click on the link, save the file to your PC, then either print it and complete it or e-mail an electronic copy.

For details of the data available please click here

All enquiries and completed application forms should be addressed to:

Dr Chris McNeil
Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre
Lilian Sutton Building
University of Aberdeen

Tel: 01224 438353
Email: c.mcneil@abdn.ac.uk


Zero-Field MRI to Enhance Diagnosis of Neurodegeneration. Lurie D, Broche L, Counsell CE, Murray AD, Riedel G. EPSRC, £988,625 (FEC £1,247,106) 2013-2016.

Occupational profile and contribution to cognitive reserve. Murray AD, Staff RT, Whalley LJ & Phillips L. Pathways to a healthy life: Pump priming, £2,092, 2013-14.

Life-course determinants of resilience to cognitive decline and mood disorders. Murray AD, Phillips L, Black C, McArdle K. PhD Studentship, £54,570, 2013-2016.

Follow-up of dementia outcomes in the Aberdeen Birth Cohort of 1936 - Secondment for Professor LJ Whalley. Murray AD, £4,020, 2012-2013.

Retinol binding protein 4, brain imaging biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular disease, and cognitive decline. Murray AD, Delibegovic M, Staff RT, McNeil C. Tenovus Scotland, £9,839, 2012-2013.

Novel and Collaborative Approaches to Knowledge Exchange in Translational Imaging. SINAPSE, Pfizer, TMVS, Varian, GE healthcare, Siemens, GSK, ReNeuron, LUX Innovate, Propeller, NHS R&D, SHIL. SFC SPIRIT £2,249,194, 2010-2013.