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1.  The importance of cognitive aging for understanding dementia 
Age  2010;32(4):509-512.
A third of those over 80 years of age are likely to have dementia, the lack of a cure requires efforts directed at prevention and delaying the age of onset. We argue here for the importance of understanding the cognitive ageing process, seen as the decline in various cognitive functions from adulthood to old age. The impact of age on cognitive function is heterogeneous and the identification of risk factors associated with adverse cognitive ageing profiles would allow well targeted interventions, behavioural or pharmacological, to delay and reduce the population burden of dementia. A shift away from binary outcomes such as dementia assessed at one point in time in elderly populations to research on cognitive ageing using repeated measures of cognitive function and staring earlier in the lifecourse would allow the sources of variability in ageing to be better understood.
PMCID: PMC2980594  PMID: 20454932
Aging; Alzheimer Disease; epidemiology; physiopathology; Cognition; Dementia; diagnosis; epidemiology; physiopathology; prevention & control; therapy; France; epidemiology; Humans; Prevalence; Risk Factors; World Health Organization
2.  Bilingualism: Consequences for Mind and Brain 
Trends in Cognitive Sciences  2012;16(4):240-250.
Building on earlier evidence showing a beneficial effect of bilingualism on children’s cognitive development, we review recent studies using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to examine the effects of bilingualism on cognition in adulthood and explore possible mechanisms for these effects. This research shows that bilingualism has a somewhat muted effect in adulthood but a larger role in older age, protecting against cognitive decline, a concept known as “cognitive reserve”. We discuss recent evidence that bilingualism is associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia. Cognitive reserve is a crucial research area in the context of an aging population; the possibility that bilingualism contributes to cognitive reserve is therefore of growing importance as populations become increasingly diverse.
PMCID: PMC3322418  PMID: 22464592
3.  The dementia and disability project in Thai elderly: rational, design, methodology and early results 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:3.
A strong inverse relationship of functional limitation and socioeconomic status has been established in western ageing society. Functional limitation can be related to chronic diseases, disuse, cognitive decline, and ageing. Among chronic diseases in the Thai population, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, and arthritis are common. These factors are known to contribute to disability and poor quality of life in the elder population. Neuropsychiatric problems, cognitive decline, dementia, and cultural issues in elderly people also can alter the quality of life of the elderly.
The Dementia and Disability Project in Thai Elderly (DDP) aims at comprehensively assessing community dwelling Thai elderly to understand the relationship between disability and motor function, neuropsychiatric symptoms, cognitive function, and chronic diseases. The DDP is the first study to look at the prevalence and etiology of dementia and of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in Thai elders and to explore the relationship of cognition, disability, small vessel diseases and cortical degeneration with neuroimaging in Thai elderly people. 1998 Thai elders were screened in 2004–2006 and diagnosed as having MCI or dementia. 223 elders with MCI or dementia and cognitively normal elderly had brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or at baseline. 319 elders from the 3 groups had blood tests to investigate the risks and possible etiologies of dementia including genotyping at baseline.
The mean age of elders in this study is 69.51(SD=6.71, min=60, max=95) years. 689(34.9%) are men and 1284(65.1%) are women. Mean body weight was 58.36(SD=11.20) kgs. The regression model reveals that performance on gait and balance and serum triglyceride predicts activity of daily living performance (adjusted r2 = 0.280, f=2.644, p=0.003). The majority of abnormal gait in Thai elders was lower level gait disturbance. Only 1.5% (29/1952) had highest level gait disorders. 39.5% of 1964 subjects were free of chronic diseases. Treatment gap (indicating those who have untreated or inadequate treatment) of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Thai elders in this study was 37% and 55.5% respectively. 62.6% of Thai elders have ApoE3E3 allele. Prevalence of positive ApoE4 gene in this study is 22.85%. 38.6% of Thai elders who had MRI brain study have moderate to severe white matter lesions.
The large and comprehensive set of measurements in DDP allows a wide-ranging explanation of the functional and clinical features to be investigated in relation to white matter lesions or cortical atrophy of the brain in Thai elderly population. An almost 2 year follow up was made available to those with MCI and dementia and some of the cognitively normal elderly. The longitudinal design will provide great understanding of the possible contributors to disability in the elderly and to the progression of cognitive decline in Thai elders.
PMCID: PMC3552988  PMID: 23305293
Mild cognitive impairment; Dementia; Alzheimer disease; Disability; White matter lesions; Thailand
4.  Joint Modeling for Cognitive Trajectory and Risk of Dementia in the Presence of Death 
Biometrics  2009;66(1):294-300.
Dementia is characterized by accelerated cognitive decline before and after diagnosis as compared to normal aging. It has been known that cognitive impairment occurs long before the diagnosis of dementia. For individuals who develop dementia, it is important to determine the time when the rate of cognitive decline begins to accelerate and the subsequent gap time to dementia diagnosis. For normal aging individuals, it is also useful to understand the trajectory of cognitive function until their death. A Bayesian change-point model is proposed to fit the trajectory of cognitive function for individuals who develop dementia. In real life, people in older ages are subject to two competing risks, e.g, dementia and dementia-free death. Because the majority of people do not develop dementia, a mixture model is used for survival data with competing risks, which consists of dementia onset time after the change-point of cognitive function decline for demented individuals and death time for non-demented individuals. The cognitive trajectories and the survival process are modeled jointly and the parameters are estimated using the Markov chain Monte Carlo method. Using data from the Honolulu Asia Aging Study, we show the trajectories of cognitive function and the effect of education, apolipoprotein E 4 genotype and hypertension on cognitive decline and the risk of dementia.
PMCID: PMC3036971  PMID: 19432791
Change point; competing risks; dementia; Markov chain Monte Carlo
5.  Bipolar Disorder: Clinical Perspectives and Implications with Cognitive Dysfunction and Dementia 
Introduction. Cognitive dysfunction as a core feature in the course of bipolar affective disorder (BPD) is a current subject of debate and represents an important source of psychosocial and functional burden. Objectives. To stand out the connection and clinical implications between cognitive dysfunction, dementia, and BPD. Methods. A nonsystematic review of all English language PubMed articles published between 1995 and 2011 using the terms “bipolar disorder,” “cognitive dysfunction,” and “dementia”. Discussion. As a manifestation of an affective trait or stage, both in the acute phases and in remission, the domains affected include attention, executive function, and verbal memory. The likely evolution or overlap with the behavioural symptoms of an organic dementia allows it to be considered as a dementia specific to BPD. This is named by some authors, as BPD type VI, but others consider it a form of frontotemporal dementia. It is still not known if this process is neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative in nature, or both simultaneously. The assessment should consider the iatrogenic effects of medication, the affective symptoms, and a neurocognitive evaluation. Conclusion. More specific neuropsychological tests and functional imaging studies are needed and will assume an important role in the near future for diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3368175  PMID: 22685638
6.  NMDA Neurotransmission Dysfunction in Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Current Neuropharmacology  2012;10(3):272-285.
Dementia has become an all-important disease because the population is aging rapidly and the cost of health care associated with dementia is ever increasing. In addition to cognitive function impairment, associated behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) worsen patient’s quality of life and increase caregiver’s burden. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and both behavioral disturbance and cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s disease are thought to be associated with the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) dysfunction as increasing evidence of dysfunctional glutamatergic neurotransmission had been reported in behavioral changes and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. We review the literature regarding dementia (especially Alzheimer’s disease), BPSD and relevant findings on glutamatergic and NMDA neurotransmission, including the effects of memantine, a NMDA receptor antagonist, and NMDA-enhancing agents, such as D-serine and D-cycloserine. Literatures suggest that behavioral disturbance and cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s disease may be associated with excitatory neurotoxic effects which result in impairment of neuronal plasticity and degenerative processes. Memantine shows benefits in improving cognition, function, agitation/aggression and delusion in Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, some NMDA modulators which enhance NMDA function through the co-agonist binding site can also improve cognitive function and psychotic symptoms. We propose that modulating NMDA neurotransmission is effective in treating behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Prospective study using NMDA enhancers in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and associated behavioral disturbance is needed to verify this hypothesis.
PMCID: PMC3468881  PMID: 23450042
D-serine; glycine transporter; memantine; sarcosine.
7.  Blood Pressure and Dementia – a Comprehensive Review 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD) are important causes of cognitive decline in the elderly. As a result of an ageing population worldwide, the incidence of dementia is expected to rise exponentially over the coming decades. Vascular risk factors are implicated in the pathogenesis of both AD and VaD. Hypertension in midlife is particularly associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. One might hope the treatment of high blood pressure in midlife would reduce the risk of developing dementia, as it does the risk of stroke. Divergent results have been reported in studies examining this effect, with the evidence suggesting that certain antihypertensives confer benefits beyond others. This implies that certain drugs may have neuroprotective properties separate to their blood pressure lowering capabilities. Recent trials have added to our understanding of these relationships.
PMCID: PMC3002634  PMID: 21179532
hypertension; blood pressure; dementia; amyloid; cognitive decline; Alzheimer's; antihypertensive; hypotension
8.  Assessment scales in dementia 
Dementia involves progressive and often remorseless decline in cognition, function, behaviour and care needs. Assessment in dementia relies on collateral as well as patient-derived information. Many assessment scales have been developed over decades for use in dementia research and care. These scales are used to reduce uncertainty in decision making, for example in screening for cognitive impairment, making diagnoses of dementia and monitoring change. Ideal scales used in dementia should demonstrate face validity and concurrent validity against gold standard assessments, should be reliable, practical, and should rely on objective rather than subjective information. Assessment scales in the domains of cognition, function, behaviour, quality of life, depression in dementia, carer burden and overall dementia severity are reviewed in this article. The practical use of these scales in clinical practice and in research is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3487532  PMID: 23139705
Assessment; dementia; scales
The amyloid cascade hypothesis has guided much of research into Alzheimer disease (AD) over the last 25 years. We argue that the hypothesis of beta amyloid (Aβ) as the primary cause of dementia may not be fully correct. Rather, we propose that decline in brain metabolic activity, which is tightly linked to synaptic activity, actually underlies both the cognitive decline and the deposition of Aβ. Aβ may further exacerbate metabolic decline and result in a downward spiral of cognitive function, leading to dementia. This novel interpretation can tie the disparate risk factors for dementia to a unifying hypothesis and present a roadmap for interventions to decrease the prevalence of dementia in the elderly population.
PMCID: PMC3079347  PMID: 20847431
Amyloid beta Protein; Apolipoprotein E; Metabolism; Dementia; Olfactory Pathways; Mitochondria; Etiology; Pathology; Therapeutics
10.  Epidemiological Pathology of Dementia: Attributable-Risks at Death in the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000180.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Neuropathology Study carry out an analysis of brain pathologies contributing to dementia, within a cohort of elderly individuals in the UK who agreed to brain donation.
Dementia drug development aims to modulate pathological processes that cause clinical syndromes. Population data (epidemiological neuropathology) will help to model and predict the potential impact of such therapies on dementia burden in older people. Presently this can only be explored through post mortem findings. We report the attributable risks (ARs) for dementia at death for common age-related degenerative and vascular pathologies, and other factors, in the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS).
Methods and Findings
A multicentre, prospective, longitudinal study of older people in the UK was linked to a brain donation programme. Neuropathology of 456 consecutive brain donations assessed degenerative and vascular pathologies. Logistic regression modelling, with bootstrapping and sensitivity analyses, was used to estimate AR at death for dementia for specific pathologies and other factors. The main contributors to AR at death for dementia in MRC CFAS were age (18%), small brain (12%), neocortical neuritic plaques (8%) and neurofibrillary tangles (11%), small vessel disease (12%), multiple vascular pathologies (9%), and hippocampal atrophy (10%). Other significant factors include cerebral amyloid angiopathy (7%) and Lewy bodies (3%).
Such AR estimates cannot be derived from the living population; rather they estimate the relative contribution of specific pathologies to dementia at death. We found that multiple pathologies determine the overall burden of dementia. The impact of therapy targeted to a specific pathology may be profound when the dementia is relatively “pure,” but may be less impressive for the majority with mixed disease, and in terms of the population. These data justify a range of strategies, and combination therapies, to combat the degenerative and vascular determinants of cognitive decline and dementia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Losing one's belongings and forgetting people's names is often a normal part of aging. But increasing forgetfulness can also be a sign of dementia, a group of symptoms caused by several disorders that affect the structure of the brain. The commonest form of dementia is Alzheimer disease. In this, protein clumps called plaques and neurofibrillary tangles form in the brain and cause its degeneration. Vascular dementia, in which problems with blood circulation deprive parts of the brain of oxygen, is also common. People with dementia have problems with two or more “cognitive” functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. As the disease progresses, they gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities until they need total care, their personality often changes, and they may become agitated or aggressive. Dementia is rare before the age of 65 years but about a quarter of people over 85 years old have dementia. Because more people live to a ripe old age these days, the number of people with dementia is increasing. According to the latest estimates, about 35 million people now have dementia and by 2050, 115 million may have the disorder.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is no cure for dementia but many drugs designed to modulate specific abnormal (pathological) changes in the brain that can cause the symptoms of dementia are being developed. To assess the likely impact of these potentially expensive new therapies, experts need to know what proportion of dementia is associated with each type of brain pathology. Although some brain changes can be detected in living brains with techniques such as computed tomography brain scans, most brain changes can only be studied in brains taken from people after death (post mortem brains). In this study, which is part of the UK Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS), the researchers look for associations between dementia in elderly people and pathological changes in their post mortem brains and estimate the attributable-risk (AR) for dementia at death associated with specific pathological features in the brain. That is, they estimate the proportion of dementia directly attributable to each type of pathology.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Nearly 20 years ago, the MRC CFAS interviewed more than 18,000 people aged 65 years or older recruited at six sites in England and Wales to determine their cognitive function and their ability to deal with daily activities. 20% of the participants, which included people with and without cognitive impairment, were then assessed in more detail and invited to donate their brains for post mortem examination. As of 2004, 456 individuals had donated their brains. The dementia status of these donors was established using data from their assessment interviews and death certificates, and from interviews with relatives and carers, and their brains were carefully examined for abnormal changes. The researchers then used statistical methods to estimate the AR for dementia at death associated with various abnormal brain changes. The main contributors to AR for dementia at death included age (18% of dementia at death was attributable to this factor), plaques (8%), and neurofibrillary tangles (11%) in a brain region called the neocortex, small blood vessel disease (12%), and multiple abnormal changes in blood vessels (9%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that multiple abnormal brain changes determine the overall burden of dementia. Importantly, they also suggest that dementia is often associated with mixed pathological changes—many people with dementia had brain changes consistent with both Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia. Because people with dementia live for variable lengths of time during which the abnormal changes in their brain are likely to alter, it may be difficult to extrapolate these findings to living populations of elderly people. Furthermore, only a small percentage of the MRC CFAS participants have donated their brains so the findings of this study may not apply to the general population. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the new therapies currently under development may do little to reduce the overall burden of dementia because most people's dementia involves multiple pathologies. Consequently, it may be necessary to develop a range of strategies and combination therapies to deal with the ongoing dementia epidemic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute on Aging provides information for patients and carers about forgetfulness and about Alzheimer disease (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site also provides detailed information for patients and their carers about dementia and about Alzheimer disease
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and Alzheimer disease (in English and Spanish)
More information about the UK Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS) is available
PMCID: PMC2765638  PMID: 19901977
11.  Cognitive Decline in Prodromal Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(3):351-356.
To characterize the course of cognitive decline during the prodromal phase of Alzheimer's disease.
Longitudinal cohort study with up to 16 years of observation.
Older persons from two projects underwent annual clinical evaluations that included cognitive function testing and clinical classification of mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. At baseline, there were 2,071 individuals without dementia and 1,511 without cognitive impairment.
Main Outcome Measures
Change in previously established composite measures of global cognition and specific cognitive domains assessed in mixed-effects models that allow rate of decline to shift at specific points.
During follow-up, 462 persons developed Alzheimer's disease (20 with dementia solely due to another condition were excluded). Five to six years before the diagnosis, rate of global cognitive decline sharply accelerated by more than 15-fold. The acceleration in decline occurred slightly earlier for semantic memory (76 months before diagnosis) and working memory (75 months) than other cognitive functions. Mild cognitive impairment was also preceded by years of cognitive decline which began earlier (80 months before diagnosis) and proceeded more rapidly (annual loss of 0.102 unit) in the amnestic than nonamnestic (62 months, 0.072 unit) subtype.
Dementia due to Alzheimer's disease is preceded by about five to six years of accelerated decline in multiple cognitive functions. By contrast, little decline is evident in persons not developing Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC3100533  PMID: 21403020
12.  The association of diabetes and dementia and possible implications for nondiabetic populations 
Expert review of neurotherapeutics  2011;11(11):1609-1617.
Diabetes and prediabetic states have consistently been shown to be risk factors for cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. The importance of these findings is that diabetes and diabetes-related factors are modifiable, potentially permitting interventions aimed at postponing or preventing dementia. However, diabetes control cannot yet be implemented universally in diabetic subjects as a strategy for dementia prevention since the mechanisms by which diabetes impairs brain function and cognition are not fully understood. It is not clear which of the diabetes-related factors is crucial to this relationship. In addition, strict diabetic control has been demonstrated to carry risk for certain diabetic populations. The aim of the current article is to discuss current understanding of the relationships of diabetes and some of its characteristics with dementia, and suggest future questions to be answered.
PMCID: PMC3240939  PMID: 22014139
advanced glycation end products; antidiabetic medications; cognition; dementia; diabetes; hypoglycemia; insulin resistance; mild cognitive impairment; neuropathology; vascular
13.  Alzheimer’s Disease and Age-Related Memory Decline (Preclinical) 
An unfortunate result of the rapid rise in geriatric populations worldwide is the increasing prevalence of age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is a devastating neurodegenerative illness that is characterized by a profound impairment of cognitive function, marked physical disability, and an enormous economic burden on the afflicted individual, caregivers, and society in general. The rise in elderly populations is also resulting in an increase in individuals with related (potentially treatable) conditions such as “Mild Cognitive Impairment” (MCI) which is characterized by a less severe (but abnormal) level of cognitive impairment and a high-risk for developing dementia. Even in the absence of a diagnosable disorder of cognition (e.g., AD, MCI), the perception of increased forgetfulness and declining mental function is a clear source of apprehension in the elderly. This is a valid concern given that even a modest impairment of cognitive function is likely to be associated with significant disability in a rapidly evolving, technology-based society. Unfortunately, the currently available therapies designed to improve cognition (i.e., for AD and other forms of dementia) are limited by modest efficacy, adverse side effects, and their effects on cognitive function are not sustained over time. Accordingly, it is incumbent on the scientific community to develop safer and more effective therapies that improve and/or sustain cognitive function in the elderly allowing them to remain mentally active and productive for as long as possible. As diagnostic criteria for memory disorders evolve, the demand for pro-cognitive therapeutic agents is likely to surpass AD and dementia to include MCI and potentially even less severe forms of memory decline. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the contemporary therapeutic targets and preclinical pharmacologic approaches (with representative drug examples) designed to enhance memory function.
PMCID: PMC3113643  PMID: 21315756
cognition; drug development; pro-cognitive; neurotransmitter receptors; Mild Cognitive Impairment; dementia
14.  Use of anticholinergics and the risk of cognitive impairment in an African American population 
Neurology  2010;75(2):152-159.
Anticholinergic properties of certain medications often go unrecognized, and are frequently used by the elderly population. Few studies have yet defined the long-term impact of these medications on the incidence of cognitive impairment.
We report a 6-year longitudinal, observational study, evaluating 1,652 community-dwelling African American subjects over the age of 70 years who were enrolled in the Indianapolis-Ibadan Dementia Project between 2001 and 2007 and who had normal cognitive function at baseline. The exposure group included those who reported the baseline use of possible or definite anticholinergics as determined by the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden scale. Our main outcome measure was the incidence of cognitive impairment, defined as either dementia or cognitive impairment not dementia, or poor performance on a dementia screening instrument during the follow-up period.
At baseline, 53% of the population used a possible anticholinergic, and 11% used a definite anticholinergic. After adjusting for age, gender, educational level, and baseline cognitive performance, the number of definite anticholinergics was associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment (odds ratio [OR] 1.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–1.99; p = 0.02), whereas the number of possible anticholinergics at baseline did not increase the risk (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.85–1.09; p = 0.55). The risk of cognitive impairment among definite anticholinergic users was increased if they were not carriers of the APOE ε4 allele (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.03–3.05; p = 0.04).
Limiting the clinical use of definite anticholinergics may reduce the incidence of cognitive impairment among African Americans.
= Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden scale;
= Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease;
= confidence interval;
= cognitive impairment no dementia;
= Community Screening Interview for Dementia;
= Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition, revised;
= Indianapolis Ibadan Dementia Project;
= odds ratio.
PMCID: PMC2905930  PMID: 20625168
15.  Risk Factors for Late-Life Cognitive Decline and Variation with Age and Sex in the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65841.
An aging population brings increasing burdens and costs to individuals and society arising from late-life cognitive decline, the causes of which are unclear. We aimed to identify factors predicting late-life cognitive decline.
Participants were 889 community-dwelling 70–90-year-olds from the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study with comprehensive neuropsychological assessments at baseline and a 2-year follow-up and initially without dementia. Cognitive decline was considered as incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, as well as decreases in attention/processing speed, executive function, memory, and global cognition. Associations with baseline demographic, lifestyle, health and medical factors were determined.
All cognitive measures showed decline and 14% of participants developed incident MCI or dementia. Across all participants, risk factors for decline included older age and poorer smelling ability most prominently, but also more education, history of depression, being male, higher homocysteine, coronary artery disease, arthritis, low health status, and stroke. Protective factors included marriage, kidney disease, and antidepressant use. For some of these factors the association varied with age or differed between men and women. Additional risk and protective factors that were strictly age- and/or sex-dependent were also identified. We found salient population attributable risks (8.7–49.5%) for older age, being male or unmarried, poor smelling ability, coronary artery disease, arthritis, stroke, and high homocysteine.
Preventing or treating conditions typically associated with aging might reduce population-wide late-life cognitive decline. Interventions tailored to particular age and sex groups may offer further benefits.
PMCID: PMC3683032  PMID: 23799051
16.  Cognitive Reserve and Lifestyle 
The concept of cognitive reserve (CR) suggests that innate intelligence or aspects of life experience like educational or occupational attainments may supply reserve, in the form of a set of skills or repertoires that allows some people to cope with progressing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology better than others. There is epidemiological evidence that lifestyle characterized by engagement in leisure activities of intellectual and social nature is associated with slower cognitive decline in healthy elderly and may reduce the risk of incident dementia. There is also evidence from functional imaging studies that subjects engaging in such leisure activities can clinically tolerate more AD pathology. It is possible that aspects of life experience like engagement in leisure activities may result in functionally more efficient cognitive networks and therefore provide a CR that delays the onset of clinical manifestations of dementia.
PMCID: PMC3024591  PMID: 12815500
17.  Statins, Risk of Dementia and Cognitive Function: Secondary Analysis of the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study (GEMS) 
To examine whether lipid lowering medications (LLMs) and especially statin drugs can delay cognitive decline and dementia onset in individuals with and without Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) at baseline.
Longitudinal, observational study of 3,069 cognitively healthy elderly, ages 75 years and older, who were enrolled in the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study. Primary outcome measure was the time to adjudicated all-cause dementia and Alzheimer dementia (AD). Secondary outcome measure was the change in global cognitive function over time measured by 3MSE and ADAS-cog scores.
Among participants without MCI at baseline current use of statins was consistently associated with a reduced risk of all cause dementia (HR 0. 79, 95% confidence interval, 0.65–0.96, p=0.021) and AD (HR 0.57, 95% confidence interval, 0.39–0.85, p= 0.005). In participants who initiated statin therapy lipophilic statins tended to reduce dementia risk more than nonlipophilic agents. In contrast there was no significant association between LLM use (including statins), dementia onset or cognitive decline in individuals with baseline MCI. However, in individuals without MCI at baseline there was a trend for a neuroprotective effect of statins on cognitive decline.
Statins may slow the rate of cognitive decline and delay the onset of AD and all cause dementia in cognitively healthy elderly individuals whereas individuals with MCI may not have comparable cognitive protection from these agents. However, the results from this observational study need to be interpreted with caution and will require confirmation by randomized clinical trials stratifying treatment groups based on MCI status at baseline.
PMCID: PMC3140577  PMID: 21236699
Cognitive function; 3HMG-ACoA reductase inhibitors; Mild Cognitive Impairment; dementia
18.  Cognitive performance and informant reports in the diagnosis of cognitive impairment and dementia in African Americans and whites 
The diagnosis of cognitive impairment and dementia must reflect an increasingly diverse and aging United States population. This study compared direct testing and informant reports of cognition with clinical diagnoses of cognitive impairment and dementia between African Americans and whites.
Participants in the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study completed in-person dementia evaluations, and were assigned clinical diagnoses (by a consensus panel of dementia experts) of normal; cognitive impairment, not demented (CIND); and dementia. The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD) total score and the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE) were used to assess cognitive performance and reported cognitive decline.
A higher CERAD total score was associated with lower odds of CIND and dementia, at comparable ratios between African Americans and whites. Higher IQCODE scores were associated with increased odds of dementia in both African Americans and whites. Higher IQCODE scores were associated with increased odds of CIND among whites, but not among African Americans.
Cultural differences may influence informant reports of prevalent CIND and dementia. Our findings also highlight the need for more comparative research to establish the cultural validity of measures used to diagnose these conditions.
PMCID: PMC2805266  PMID: 19896583
CERAD; IQCODE; Cognitive decline; CIND; Dementia; African American
19.  Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Cognition in the Elderly 
While it is relatively widely known that cardiovascular disease (CVD) can result in cognitive decline, it is becoming increasingly clearer that actual risk factors for CVD, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are also associated with alterations to brain structure and cognition. The prevalence of CVD risk factors increase exponentially with age and are often overlooked as a source of cognitive changes that are otherwise thought to be part of the ‘normal’ aging process. Associated cognitive changes are observed even at levels of risk that would be considered subclinical by current diagnostic convention, and are often significant enough to interfere with daily functional abilities. More importantly, if not controlled, CVD risk can lead to further decline, including cerebrovacsular disease and dementia. Thus, it is critically important to consider these factors in the elderly and we recommend more routine cognitive screenings, particularly when CVD risk factors are involved.
PMCID: PMC3245189  PMID: 22199992
20.  Cognitive Decline and Dementia in the Oldest-Old 
The oldest-old are the fastest growing segment of the Western population. Over half of the oldest-old will have dementia, but the etiology is yet unknown. Age is the only risk factor consistently associated with dementia in the oldest-old. Many of the risk and protective factors for dementia in the young elderly, such as ApoE genotype, physical activity, and healthy lifestyle, are not relevant for the oldest-old. Neuropathology is abundant in the oldest-old brains, but specific pathologies of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or vascular dementia are not necessarily correlated with cognition, as in younger persons. It has been suggested that accumulation of both AD-like and vascular pathologies, loss of synaptic proteins, and neuronal loss contribute to the cognitive decline observed in the oldest-old. Several characteristics of the oldest-old may confound the diagnosis of dementia in this age group. A gradual age-related cognitive decline, particularly in executive function and mental speed, is evident even in non-demented oldest-old. Hearing and vision losses, which are also prevalent in the oldest-old and found in some cases to precede/predict cognitive decline, may mechanically interfere in neuropsychological evaluations. Difficulties in carrying out everyday activities, observed in the majority of the oldest-old, may be the result of motor or physical dysfunction and of neurodegenerative processes. The oldest-old appear to be a select population, who escapes major illnesses or delays their onset and duration toward the end of life. Dementia in the oldest-old may be manifested when a substantial amount of pathology is accumulated, or with a composition of a variety of pathologies. Investigating the clinical and pathological features of dementia in the oldest-old is of great importance in order to develop therapeutic strategies and to provide the most elderly of our population with good quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3678827  PMID: 23908850
Dementia; epidemiology; neurobiology; oldest-old; risk factors
21.  Cognitive and Anatomic Contributions of Metabolic Decline in Alzheimer Disease and Cerebrovascular Disease 
Archives of neurology  2008;65(5):650-655.
Alzheimer disease and cerebrovascular disease affect elderly persons through alterations in brain structure and metabolism that produce cognitive decline. Understanding how each disease contributes to dementia is essential from both a pathophysiologic and diagnostic perspective.
To elucidate how baseline cognitive function (episodic memory and executive function) and brain anatomy (white matter hyperintensities and hippocampal volume) are associated with baseline (positron emission tomography-1 [PET1]) and longitudinal (PET2) glucose metabolism in 38 subjects older than 55 years ranging from normal cognition, cognitive impairment without dementia, and dementia.
Cross-sectional regression analyses across subjects.
Multicenter, university-based study of subcortical vascular dementia.
Main Outcome Measures:
Regional cerebral glucose metabolism was the primary outcome, with the major hypotheses that memory and hippocampal volume are related to temporoparietal hypometabolism while executive function and white matter hyperintensities correlate with frontal lobe hypometabolism.
Low baseline hippocampal volume predicted longitudinal development (PET2) of medial temporal hypometabolism. Lower memory was associated with parietal and cingulate hypometabolism at PET1, which increased at the 2-year-follow-up (PET2). Executive function was associated with frontal and temporoparietal hypometabolism at PET1 but only with frontal hypometabolism at follow-up. White matter hyperintensities predicted hypometabolism over time in the frontoparietal regions, predicting a rate of metabolic change (PET1−PET2/time).
Low baseline episodic memory and hippocampal volume predict the metabolic alterations associated with Alzheimer disease, whereas elevated baseline white matter hyperintensities predict a different pattern of metabolic decline that is plausibly associated with cerebrovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2556212  PMID: 18474742
22.  Subclinical hyperthyroidism and dementia: the Sao Paulo Ageing & Health Study (SPAH) 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:298.
Several epidemiologic studies have shown a possible association between thyroid function and cognitive decline. Our aim was to evaluate the association of subclinical hyperthyroidism and dementia in a population sample of older people
A cross-sectional study - São Paulo Ageing & Health Study (SPAH) - in a population sample of low-income elderly people ≥ 65 years-old to evaluate presence of subclinical thyroid disease as a risk factor for dementia. Thyroid function was assessed using thyrotropic hormone and free-thyroxine as well as routine use of thyroid hormones or antithyroid medications. Cases of dementia were assessed using a harmonized one-phase dementia diagnostic procedure by the "10/66 Dementia Research Group" including Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Logistic regression models were used to test a possible association between subclinical hyperthyroidism and dementia.
Results and discussion
Prevalence of dementia and of subclinical hyperthyroidism were respectively of 4.4% and 3.0%. After age adjustment, we found an association of subclinical hyperthyroidism and any type of dementia and vascular dementia (Odds Ratio, 4.1, 95% Confidence Interval [95% CI] 1.3-13.1, and 5.3 95% CI, 1.1-26.4; respectively). Analyzing data by gender, we found an association of subclinical hyperthyroidism with dementia and Alzheimer's disease only for men (OR, 8.0; 95% CI, 1.5-43.4; OR, 12.4; 95% CI, 1.2-128.4; respectively). No women with subclinical hypothyroidism presented Alzheimer's disease in the sample.
The results suggest a consistent association among people with subclinical hyperthyroidism and dementia.
PMCID: PMC2887825  PMID: 20515500
23.  Dementia in the oldest old: a multi-factorial and growing public health issue 
The population of oldest old, or people aged 85 and older, is growing rapidly. A better understanding of dementia in this population is thus of increasing national and global importance. In this review, we describe the major epidemiological studies, prevalence, clinical presentation, neuropathological and imaging features, risk factors, and treatment of dementia in the oldest old. Prevalence estimates for dementia among those aged 85+ ranges from 18 to 38%. The most common clinical syndromes are Alzheimer's dementia, vascular dementia, and mixed dementia from multiple etiologies. The rate of progression appears to be slower than in the younger old. Single neuropathological entities such as Alzheimer's dementia and Lewy body pathology appear to have declining relevance to cognitive decline, while mixed pathology with Alzheimer's disease, vascular disease (especially cortical microinfarcts), and hippocampal sclerosis appear to have increasing relevance. Neuroimaging data are sparse. Risk factors for dementia in the oldest old include a low level of education, poor mid-life general health, low level of physical activity, depression, and delirium, whereas apolipoprotein E genotype, late-life hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and elevated peripheral inflammatory markers appear to have less relevance. Treatment approaches require further study, but the oldest old may be more prone to negative side effects compared with younger patients and targeted therapies may be less efficacious since single pathologies are less frequent. We also highlight the limitations and challenges of research in this area, including the difficulty of defining functional decline, a necessary component for a dementia diagnosis, the lack of normative neuropsychological data, and other shortcomings inherent in existing diagnostic criteria. In summary, our understanding of dementia in the oldest old has advanced dramatically in recent years, but more research is needed, particularly among varied racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and with respect to biomarkers such as neuroimaging, modifiable risk factors, and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3706944  PMID: 23809176
24.  Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease: A Prodrome or a State of Resilience? 
Current Alzheimer Research  2011;8(4):330-335.
Neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the neuropathological hallmarks of AD, are not limited to individuals with dementia. These pathologic changes can also be present in the brains of cognitively normal older adults – a condition we defined as Asymptomatic AD (ASYMAD). Although it remains unclear whether these individuals would remain clinically normal with longer survival, they seem to be able to compensate for or delay the appearance of dementia symptoms. Here, we provide a historical background and highlight the combined clinical, pathologic and morphometric evidence related to ASYMAD. Understanding the nature of changes during this apparently asymptomatic state may shed light on the mechanisms that forestall the progression of the disease and allow for maintenance of cognitive health, an important area of research that has been understudied relative to the identification of risks and pathways to negative health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3286868  PMID: 21222594
Normal aging; MCI; AD; neuropathology; beta-amyloid; neuronal hypertrophy
25.  Alcohol and Cognition in the Elderly: A Review 
Psychiatry Investigation  2012;9(1):8-16.
Consumption of large amounts of alcohol is known to have negative effects, but consumption in smaller amounts may be protective. The effect of alcohol may be greater in the elderly than in younger adults, particularly with regard to cognition. However, the drinking pattern that will provide optimal protection against dementia and cognitive decline in the elderly has not been systematically investigated. The present paper is a critical review of research on the effect of alcohol on cognitive function and dementia in the elderly. Studies published from 1971 to 2011 related to alcohol and cognition in the elderly were reviewed using a PubMed search. Alcohol may have both a neurotoxic and neuroprotective effect. Longitudinal and brain imaging studies in the elderly show that excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia, but low to moderate alcohol intake may protect against cognitive decline and dementia and provide cardiovascular benefits. Evidence suggesting that low to moderate alcohol consumption in the elderly protects against cognitive decline and dementia exists; however, because of varying methodology and a lack of standardized definitions, these findings should be interpreted with caution. It is important to conduct more, well-designed studies to identify the alcohol drinking pattern that will optimally protect the elderly against cognitive decline and dementia.
PMCID: PMC3285745  PMID: 22396679
Alcohol; Cognition; Neuroprotection; Neurotoxicity; Elderly; Dementia

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