The American Institutes for Research is looking for Davis High School graduates to participate in a new survey. But there’s a catch: It’s looking for students who started at the school in 1960 and graduated in 1963.
That’s because Davis students from that class participated in a landmark study called Project Talent, which surveyed more than 400,000 teenagers in 1,353 schools across the nation in 1960. At the time, it was the largest and most comprehensive study of high school students ever done in the U.S., according to a news release from the American Institutes for Research.
The agency is seeking original participants to conduct a follow-up study on Alzheimer’s disease.
“The new follow-up study will have a special focus on memory and cognitive health in an effort to develop evidence-based policies to combat the looming Alzheimer’s crisis,” the release said. “Studies project that by 2050, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will more than triple, reaching 16 million.”
In the original two-day study, students were asked questions meant to assess their aptitude, abilities, hopes and expectations.
“The goal was to identify the unique strengths and interests of America’s young people and to ensure they were being guided into careers that would make the best use of their talents,” the release said.
Several follow-up studies with participants over subsequent years have asked questions about their work and personal life, and the results of those surveys have been used in academic studies in several fields, including economics, sociology, psychology, health and education.
The new study will look at participants’ answers to the questions they were asked in the early 1960s and compare them to questions on the new survey. The goal is to pinpoint factors that could contribute to developing the disease, said Sabine Horner, one of the project’s consultants.
But after 58 years, the survey’s original participants are hard to find, Horner said. Women — who often change their last name when they marry — are especially difficult to track, Horner said.
Over the years, when contacted about taking follow-up surveys, many participants were eager and had been expecting to be contacted, while others had no memory of participating in the original survey, she said.