We investigated using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and the association between white matter integrity and executive function (EF) performance in postacute mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). In addition, we examined whether injury severity, as measured by loss of consciousness (LOC) versus alterations in consciousness (AOC), is related to white matter microstructural alterations and neuropsychological outcome.
Thirty Iraq and Afghanistan War era veterans with a history of mTBI and 15 healthy veteran control participants.
There were no significant overall group differences between control and mTBI participants on DTI measures. However, a subgroup of mTBI participants with EF decrements (n = 13) demonstrated significantly decreased fractional anisotropy of prefrontal white matter, corpus callosum, and cingulum bundle structures compared with mTBI participants without EF decrements (n = 17) and control participants. Participants having mTBI with LOC were more likely to evidence reduced EF performances and disrupted ventral prefrontal white matter integrity when compared with either mTBI participants without LOC or control participants.
Findings suggest that altered white matter integrity contributes to reduced EF in subgroups of veterans with a history of mTBI and that LOC may be a risk factor for reduced EF as well as associated changes to ventral prefrontal white matter.
diffusion tensor imaging; executive functions; traumatic brain injury; white matter
The current study examined the association between pulse pressure (PP) and CSF-based biomarkers for Alzheimer disease, including β-amyloid 1–42 (Aβ1–42) and phosphorylated tau (P-tau) protein, in cognitively normal older adults.
One hundred seventy-seven cognitively normal, stroke-free older adult participants (aged 55–100 years) underwent blood pressure assessment for determination of PP (systolic − diastolic blood pressure) and lumbar puncture for measurement of CSF Aβ1–42 and P-tau. Pearson correlations and multiple linear regression, controlling for age, sex, APOE genotype, and body mass index, evaluated the relationship between PP and Alzheimer disease biomarkers.
PP elevation was associated with increased P-tau (r = 0.23, p = 0.002), reduced Aβ1–42 (r = −0.19, p = 0.01), and increased P-tau to Aβ1–42 ratio (r = 0.27, p < 0.001). After controlling for covariates, PP remained associated with P-tau (β = 0.18, p = 0.0196) and P-tau to Aβ1–42 ratio (β = 0.0016, p < 0.001) but was no longer associated with Aβ1–42 (β = −0.1, p = 0.35). Post hoc multivariate analyses indicated that increased PP was associated with all biomarkers in younger participants (aged 55–70 years) (Aβ1–42: p = 0.050; P-tau: p = 0.003; P-tau to Aβ ratio: p = 0.0007) but not older participants (aged 70–100 years).
PP elevation is associated with increased CSF P-tau and decreased Aβ1–42 in cognitively normal older adults, suggesting that pulsatile hemodynamics may be related to amyloidosis and tau-related neurodegeneration. The relationship between PP and CSF biomarkers is age-dependent and observed only in participants in the fifth and sixth decades of life.
Vascular risk factors have been associated with cognitive decline, however, it remains unclear whether apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype modifies this relationship. We aimed to further elucidate these relationships and extend previous findings by examining data from a more comprehensive cognitive assessment than used in prior studies. 1,436 participants from the prospective Framingham Offspring Cohort Study underwent health examination from 1991-1995, followed by a baseline neuropsychological assessment (1999-2003) and a repeat neuropsychological assessment approximately eight years later (2004-2009). Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between midlife vascular risk factors, presence of the APOE ε4 allele, and cognitive change. APOE genotype significantly modified the associations between both midlife hypertension and cardiovascular disease and decline in language abilities as well as midlife diabetes and decline in verbal memory, attention, and visuospatial abilities. Associations between increased midlife vascular risk burden and greater cognitive decline were observed among APOE ε4 carriers but not non-carriers. The present findings revealed a subgroup at increased risk for cognitive decline (APOE ε4 carriers with midlife exposure to vascular risk factors) and suggest that treatment of vascular risk factors during midlife may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment later in life, particularly among APOE ε4 carriers.
Apolipoprotein E; Cognition; Vascular Risk; Aging; Diabetes; Hypertension; Cardiovascular Disease
Subjective cognitive complaints are a criterion for the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), despite their uncertain relationship to objective memory performance in MCI. We aimed to examine self-reported cognitive complaints in subgroups of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) MCI cohort to determine whether they are a valuable inclusion in the diagnosis of MCI or, alternatively, if they contribute to misdiagnosis. Subgroups of MCI were derived using cluster analysis of baseline neuropsychological test data from 448 ADNI MCI participants. Cognitive complaints were assessed via the Everyday Cognition (ECog) questionnaire, and discrepancy scores were calculated between self- and informant-report. Cluster analysis revealed Amnestic and Mixed cognitive phenotypes as well as a third Cluster-Derived Normal subgroup (41.3%), whose neuropsychological and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarker profiles did not differ from a “robust” normal control group. This cognitively intact phenotype of MCI participants overestimated their cognitive problems relative to their informant, whereas Amnestic MCI participants with objective memory impairment underestimated their cognitive problems. Underestimation of cognitive problems was associated with positive CSF AD biomarkers and progression to dementia. Overall, there was no relationship between self-reported cognitive complaints and objective cognitive functioning, but significant correlations were observed with depressive symptoms. The inclusion of self-reported complaints in MCI diagnostic criteria may cloud rather than clarify diagnosis and result in high rates of misclassification of MCI. Discrepancies between self- and informant-report demonstrate that overestimation of cognitive problems is characteristic of normal aging while underestimation may reflect greater risk for cognitive decline.
Mild cognitive impairment; Awareness; Cluster analysis; Diagnostic errors; Neuropsychology; Dementia; Alzheimer disease
We compared two methods of diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI): conventional Petersen/Winblad criteria as operationalized by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and an actuarial neuropsychological method put forward by Jak and Bondi designed to balance sensitivity and reliability. 1,150 ADNI participants were diagnosed at baseline as cognitively normal (CN) or MCI via ADNI criteria (MCI: n = 846; CN: n = 304) or Jak/Bondi criteria (MCI: n = 401; CN: n = 749), and the two MCI samples were submitted to cluster and discriminant function analyses. Resulting cluster groups were then compared and further examined for APOE allelic frequencies, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarker levels, and clinical outcomes. Results revealed that both criteria produced a mildly impaired Amnestic subtype and a more severely impaired Dysexecutive/Mixed subtype. The neuropsychological Jak/Bondi criteria uniquely yielded a third Impaired Language subtype, whereas conventional Petersen/Winblad ADNI criteria produced a third subtype comprising nearly one-third of the sample that performed within normal limits across the cognitive measures, suggesting this method’s susceptibility to false positive diagnoses. MCI participants diagnosed via neuropsychological criteria yielded dissociable cognitive phenotypes, significant CSF AD biomarker associations, more stable diagnoses, and identified greater percentages of participants who progressed to dementia than conventional MCI diagnostic criteria. Importantly, the actuarial neuropsychological method did not produce a subtype that performed within normal limits on the cognitive testing, unlike the conventional diagnostic method. Findings support the need for refinement of MCI diagnoses to incorporate more comprehensive neuropsychological methods, with resulting gains in empirical characterization of specific cognitive phenotypes, biomarker associations, stability of diagnoses, and prediction of progression. Refinement of MCI diagnostic methods may also yield gains in biomarker and clinical trial study findings because of improvements in sample compositions of ‘true positive’ cases and removal of ‘false positive’ cases.
Alzheimer’s disease; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; biomarker; cluster analysis; dementia; mild cognitive impairment; neuropsychology; progression
Reduced regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) is a well-established finding in Alzheimer's disease (AD), although fewer studies have examined the role of increased regional cerebrovascular resistance. By calculating the ratio of mean arterial pressure to rCBF, it is possible to estimate an index of regional cerebrovascular resistance (CVRi) that may be a sensitive measure of occult cerebrovascular disease.
To compare probable AD patients to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and normal control (NC) participants on CVRi, the ratio of mean arterial pressure to rCBF.
Eighty-one participants (12 AD, 23 MCI, 46 NC) were compared on CVRi using voxel-wise analyses. Region-of-interest analyses examined correlations between subcortical CVRi and both cognition and white matter lesion (WML) volume.
Voxel-wise analyses revealed CVRi elevation in AD relative to NCs (subcortical, medial temporal, posterior cingulate, precuneus, inferior parietal, superior temporal) and MCI (subcortical, posterior cingulate). MCI participants exhibited intermediate CVRi values within cortical and medial temporal areas. Significant CVRi clusters were larger and more widespread than those of parallel CBF analyses. Among MCI and AD participants, subcortical CVRi elevation was associated with lower Dementia Rating Scale score (r = −0.52, p = 0.001, for both thalamus and caudate), and caudate CVRi correlated with WML volume (r = 0.45, p = 0.001).
Cortical and subcortical CVRi is elevated in AD, particularly within the caudate and thalamus, where it is associated with decreased cognitive performance and increased WMLs. Findings suggest CVRi may play a role in cognitive decline and cerebrovascular disease in MCI and AD.
Alzheimer's disease; cerebral blood flow; cerebrovascular resistance; mild cognitive impairment
Vascular risk factors and cerebral blood flow (CBF) reduction have been linked to increased risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease (AD); however the possible moderating effects of age and vascular risk burden on CBF in late life remain understudied. We examined the relationships among elevated vascular risk burden, age, CBF, and cognition. Seventy-one non-demented older adults completed an arterial spin labeling MR scan, neuropsychological assessment, and medical history interview. Relationships among vascular risk burden, age, and CBF were examined in a priori regions of interest (ROIs) previously implicated in aging and AD. Interaction effects indicated that, among older adults with elevated vascular risk burden (i.e., multiple vascular risk factors), advancing age was significantly associated with reduced cortical CBF whereas there was no such relationship for those with low vascular risk burden (i.e., no or one vascular risk factor). This pattern was observed in cortical ROIs including medial temporal (hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, uncus), inferior parietal (supramarginal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, angular gyrus), and frontal (anterior cingulate, middle frontal gyrus, medial frontal gyrus) cortices. Furthermore, among those with elevated vascular risk, reduced CBF was associated with poorer cognitive performance. Such findings suggest that older adults with elevated vascular risk burden may be particularly vulnerable to cognitive change as a function of CBF reductions. Findings support the use of CBF as a potential biomarker in preclinical AD and suggest that vascular risk burden and regionally-specific CBF changes may contribute to differential age-related cognitive declines.
aging; vascular risk factors; arterial spin labeling; cognition
To determine whether HIV infection and aging act synergistically to disrupt everyday functioning.
Cross-sectional, factorial study of everyday functioning in the context of HIV serostatus and age (≤ 40 years vs ≥ 50 years).
103 HIV+ and 87 HIV− participants were administered several measures of everyday functioning, including self-report indices of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and instrumental and basic activities of daily living (IADLs and BADLs), and objective measures of functioning including employment and Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) ratings.
Significant interaction effects of HIV and aging were observed for IADL and BADL declines, as well as KPS ratings (ps<.05), independent of potentially confounding factors. Follow-up contrasts revealed significantly worse functioning in the older HIV+ group for all functional outcome measures relative to the other study groups (ps<.05). A significant interaction effect was also observed on the emotional functioning HRQoL subscale, and additive effects of both age and HIV were observed for the physical functioning and general health perceptions HRQoL subscales (ps<.05). Significant predictors of poorer functioning in the older HIV+ group included current major depressive disorder for all outcomes, and comorbid medical conditions, lower estimated premorbid functioning, neurocognitive impairment, and nadir CD4 count for selected outcomes.
Findings suggest that older age may exacerbate the adverse effects of HIV on daily functioning, which highlights the importance of evaluating and monitoring the functional status of older HIV-infected adults. Early detection of functional difficulties could facilitate delivery of compensatory strategies (e.g., cognitive remediation) or assistive services.
HIV; aging; assessment; daily functioning; health status; disability
Given the importance of identifying dementia prodromes for future treatment efforts, we examined two methods of diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and determined whether empirically-derived MCI subtypes of these diagnostic methods were consistent with one another as well as with conventional MCI subtypes (i.e., amnestic, non-amnestic, single-domain, multi-domain). Participants were diagnosed with MCI using either conventional Petersen/Winblad criteria (n = 134; >1.5 SDs below normal on one test within a cognitive domain) or comprehensive neuropsychological criteria developed by Jak et al. (2009) (n = 80; >1 SD below normal on two tests within a domain), and the resulting samples were examined via hierarchical cluster and discriminant function analyses. Results showed that neuropsychological profiles varied depending on the criteria used to define MCI. Both criteria revealed an Amnestic subtype, consistent with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and a Mixed subtype that may capture individuals in advanced stages of MCI. The comprehensive criteria uniquely yielded Dysexecutive and Visuospatial subtypes, whereas the conventional criteria produced a subtype that performed within normal limits, suggesting its susceptibility to false positive diagnostic errors. Whether these empirically-derived MCI subtypes correspond to dissociable neuropathologic substrates and represent reliable prodromes of dementia will require additional follow-up.
Mild cognitive impairment; Amnestic MCI; Non-amnestic MCI; Dementia; Cluster analysis; Neuropsychology
Memory tests are sensitive to early identification of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but less useful as the disease advances. However, assessing particular types of recognition memory may better characterize dementia severity in later stages of AD. We sought to examine patterns of recognition memory deficits in individuals with AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Memory performance and global cognition data were collected from participants with AD (n=37), MCI (n=37), and cognitively intact older adults (normal controls, NC; n=35). One-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) examined differences between groups on yes/no and forced-choice recognition measures. Individuals with amnestic MCI performed worse than NC and nonamnestic MCI participants on yes/no recognition, but were comparable on forced-choice recognition. AD patients were more impaired across yes/no and forced-choice recognition tasks. Individuals with mild AD (≥120 Dementia Rating Scale, DRS) performed better than those with moderate-to-severe AD (<120 DRS) on forced-choice recognition, but were equally impaired on yes/no recognition. There were differences in the relationships between learning, recall, and recognition performance across groups. Although yes/no recognition testing may be sensitive to MCI, forced-choice procedures may provide utility in assessing severity of anterograde amnesia in later stages of AD. Implications for assessment of insufficient effort and malingering are also discussed.
Recognition memory; Alzheimer’s disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Dementia severity; Neuropsychology
Both the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection among older adults are on the rise. Older adults are at increased risk of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, which has historically been characterized as an inconsistent or “spotty” pattern of deficits. Dispersion is a form of intraindividual variability (IIV) that is defined as within-person variability in performance across domains and has been associated with poorer neurocognitive functioning and incipient decline among healthy older adults. To our knowledge, no studies have yet examined dispersion in an aging HIV-infected sample.
For the current study we examined the hypothesis that age and HIV infection have synergistic effects on dispersion across a battery of clinical and experimental cognitive tasks. Our well-characterized sample comprised 126 HIV-seropositive individuals (HIV+) and 40 HIV-seronegative comparison individuals (HIV−), all of whom were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery.
Consistent with our hypothesis, an age by HIV serostatus interaction was observed, with the older HIV+ group demonstrating a higher level of dispersion relative to older HIV− and younger HIV+ individuals, even when potentially confounding demographic and medical factors were controlled.
Our results demonstrate that older HIV+ adults produce greater dispersion, or intraindividual variability in performance across a range of tests, which may be reflective of cognitive dyscontrol to which this population is vulnerable, perhaps driven by the combined effects of aging and HIV infection on prefrontostriatal systems.
HIV; aging; neuropsychological assessment; variability
Elevated pulse pressure (PP) is associated with cognitive decline and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in older adults, although the mechanisms behind these associations remain unclear. To address this question, we examined whether antemortem late-life PP elevation predicted vascular or AD pathology in autopsy-confirmed AD patients. Sixty-five elderly patients (mean age 74.2 years) clinically diagnosed with possible or probable AD underwent neuropsychological testing and blood pressure examinations. Postmortem histopathological measures of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and AD neuropathology were later obtained on these same patients. We expected that antemortem PP elevation, but not standard blood pressure measures such as systolic or diastolic blood pressure, would predict the autopsy-based presence of CVD, and possibly AD pathology, in elderly AD patients. Results demonstrated that antemortem PP elevation was associated with the presence and severity of CVD at autopsy. For every 5 mmHg increase in antemortem PP there was an estimated 36% increase in the odds of having CVD at autopsy. Additionally, PP accounted for 12% of variance in CVD severity. No significant associations were present for cerebral amyloid angiopathy or Braak and Braak staging of the severity of AD pathology. Other standard blood pressure measures also did not significantly predict neuropathology. The association between antemortem PP and CVD at autopsy suggests that in older adults with AD, PP elevation may increase the risk of CVD. These findings may have treatment implications since some antihypertensive medications specifically address the pulsatile component of blood pressure (e.g., renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, calcium channel blockers).
Alzheimer’s disease; blood pressure; cerebrovascular disease; pulse pressure
Medial temporal lobe and temporoparietal brain regions are among the earliest neocortical sites to undergo pathophysiologic alterations in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), although the underlying white matter changes in these regions is less well known. We employed diffusion tensor imaging to evaluate early alterations in regional white matter integrity in participants diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The following regions of interests (ROIs) were examined: 1) anterior cingulum (AC); 2) posterior cingulum (PC); 3) genu of the corpus callosum; 4) splenium of the corpus callosum; and 5) as a control site for comparison, posterior limb of the internal capsule. Forty nondemented participants were divided into demographically-similar groups based on cognitive status (MCI: n = 20; normal control: n = 20), and fractional anisotropy (FA) estimates of each ROI were obtained. MCI participants showed greater posterior white matter (i.e., PC, splenium) but not anterior white matter (i.e., AC, genu) changes, after adjusting for age, stroke risk, and whole brain volume. FA differences of the posterior white matter were best accounted for by changes in radial but not axial diffusivity. PC FA was also significantly positively correlated with hippocampal volume as well as with performance on tests of verbal memory, whereas stroke risk was significantly correlated with genu FA and was unrelated to PC FA. When investigating subtypes of our MCI population, amnestic MCI participants showed lower PC white matter integrity relative to those with non-amnestic MCI. Findings implicate involvement of posterior microstructural white matter degeneration in the development of MCI-related cognitive changes and suggest that reduced FA of the PC may be a candidate neuroimaging marker of AD risk.
Aging; diffusion tensor imaging; memory; mild cognitive impairment; posterior cingulum; white matter
The age-prospective memory (PM) paradox asserts that, despite evidence of age-associated PM deficits on laboratory tasks, older adults perform comparably to (or better than) young adults on naturalistic PM tasks. This study examined the age-PM paradox in older HIV-infected individuals, who represent a growing epidemic and may be at heightened risk for adverse neurocognitive and everyday functioning outcomes. Participants included 88 older (50+ years) and 53 younger (≤40 years) HIV-infected individuals as well as 54 older and 59 younger seronegative adults who completed both laboratory and naturalistic time-based PM tasks. Similar interactions were observed in both the seropositive and the seronegative samples, such that the older participants demonstrated significantly lower laboratory-based PM than the younger groups, but not on the naturalistic PM trial. Secondary analyses within the HIV+ sample revealed that naturalistic task success was indirectly associated with greater self-reported use of PM-based and external compensatory strategies in the daily lives of older, but not younger, HIV+ adults. Study findings suggest that, although older HIV-infected adults exhibit moderate PM deficits on laboratory measures versus their younger counterparts, such impairments are paradoxically not evident on ecologically relevant naturalistic PM activities in daily life, perhaps related to effective utilization compensatory strategies.
Episodic memory; Aging; Neuropsychological assessment; AIDS dementia complex; Cognition
Background and objective
We examined the relationship between self-reported pre- and post-injury changes in executive dysfunction, apathy, disinhibition, and depression, and performance on neuropsychological tests of executive function, attention/processing speed, and memory in relation to mood levels and effort test performance in individuals in the early stages of recovery from mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Participants were 71 noncombat military personnel who were in a semiacute stage of recovery (<3 months post injury) from mild to moderate TBI. Pre- and post-TBI behaviors were assessed with the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe; Grace & Malloy, 2001) and correlated with levels of depressive symptoms, effort test performance, and performance on objective measures of attention, executive function, and memory.
Self-reported symptoms of executive dysfunction generally failed to predict performance on objective measures of executive function and memory, although they predicted poorer performance on measures of attention/processing speed. Instead, higher levels of depressive symptomatology best predicted poorer performance on measures of executive function and memory. However, the relationship between memory performance and TBI symptoms was no longer significant when effort performance was controlled.
Our findings suggest that, among individuals in early recovery from mild to moderate TBI, self-reported depressive symptoms, rather than patients’ cognitive complaints, are associated with objective executive function. However, self-reported cognitive complaints may be associated with objectively measured inattention and slow processing speed.
Traumatic brain injury; Neuropsychology; Cognition; Behavior; Depression
Using cluster analysis Libon et al. (2010) found three verbal serial list-learning profiles involving delay memory test performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Amnesic MCI (aMCI) patients presented with low scores on delay free recall and recognition tests; mixed MCI (mxMCI) patients scored higher on recognition compared to delay free recall tests; and dysexecutive MCI (dMCI) patients generated relatively intact scores on both delay test conditions. The aim of the current research was to further characterize memory impairment in MCI by examining forgetting/savings, interference from a competing word list, intrusion errors/perseverations, intrusion word frequency, and recognition foils in these three statistically determined MCI groups compared to normal control (NC) participants. The aMCI patients exhibited little savings, generated more highly prototypic intrusion errors, and displayed indiscriminate responding to delayed recognition foils. The mxMCI patients exhibited higher saving scores, fewer and less prototypic intrusion errors, and selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list. dMCI patients also selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list but performed similarly compared to NC participants. These data suggest the existence of distinct memory impairments in MCI and caution against the routine use of a single memory test score to operationally define MCI.
Mild cognitive impairment; MCI; Declarative memory; Executive control; Philadelphia (repeatable) Verbal Learning Test; P(r)VLT; Cluster analysis; Boston Process Approach
Libon et al. (2010) provided evidence for three statistically determined clusters of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI): amnesic (aMCI), dysexecutive (dMCI), and mixed (mxMCI). The current study further examined dysexecutive impairment in MCI using the framework of Fuster's (1997) derailed temporal gradients, that is, declining performance on executive tests over time or test epoch. Temporal gradients were operationally defined by calculating the slope of aggregate letter fluency output across 15-s epochs and accuracy indices for initial, middle, and latter triads from the Wechsler Memory Scale-Mental Control subtest (Boston Revision). For letter fluency, slope was steeper for dMCI compared to aMCI and NC groups. Between-group Mental Control analyses for triad 1 revealed worse dMCI performance than NC participants. On triad 2, dMCI scored lower than aMCI and NCs; on triad 3, mxMCI performed worse versus NCs. Within-group Mental Control analyses yielded equal performance across all triads for aMCI and NC participants. mxMCI scored lower on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3. dMCI participants also performed worse on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3, but scored higher on triad 3 versus triad 2. These data suggest impaired temporal gradients may provide a useful heuristic for understanding dysexecutive impairment in MCI.
Mild cognitive impairment; Single domain mild cognitive impairment; Multiple domain mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; The Titanic Effect; Executive control
Recent studies suggest that older human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults are at particular risk for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), including dementia. Deficits in attention/working memory are posited to play a central role in the development of HAND among older adults. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible protective benefits of spontaneous strategy use during a visual working memory task in 46 older and 42 younger adults infected with HIV. Results revealed a significant interaction between age and strategy use, with older adults who used a meta-cognitive strategy demonstrating superior working memory performance versus non-strategy users. This effect was not observed in the younger HIV-infected sample and was not better explained by possible confounding factors, such as education, comorbid medical conditions, or HIV disease severity. Within the older group, strategy use was associated with better executive functions and higher estimated verbal intelligence. Findings from this study suggest that working memory declines in older HIV-infected adults are moderated by the use of higher-level mnemonic strategies and may inform cognitive neurorehabilitation efforts to improve cognitive and everyday functioning outcomes in older persons living with HIV infection.
Human immunodeficiency virus; Working memory; Aging; Strategies; Neuropsychology
Forty nondemented older adults who were divided into two groups on the basis of their cognitive status (MCI: n=20; Normal Control: n=20) underwent diffusion tensor imaging, and estimates of fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were obtained for the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. Results demonstrated the following: (1) group comparisons revealed that splenium FA was significantly lower in MCI participants than in NC participants, despite no differences in gross morphometry or hippocampal volumes; (2) in the overall sample, higher stroke risk was associated with lower white matter integrity, particularly in the genu; (3) increased stroke risk was more strongly associated with poorer splenium FA in those with MCI than in normal elderly; and (4) splenium FA significantly predicted performance on verbal memory (adjusting for the effects of age, education, and whole brain volume). Findings demonstrate a relationship between increased vascular burden and white matter changes, and they support the possibility that posterior white matter pathology may contribute to the development of MCI-related cognitive changes.
MCI; mild cognitive impairment; stroke risk; Framingham; aging; white matter; diffusion tensor imaging; DTI
Recent language studies in aging and dementia provide two complementary lines of evidence that: (1) measures of semantic knowledge and word-finding ability show declines comparable to those of episodic memory, and greater impairment than executive function measures, during the prodromal period of Alzheimer’s disease and (2) cognitively intact older adult carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele also demonstrate poorer object naming than their low-risk peers. Given that possible changes in the neural substrates of word retrieval (e.g., Broca’s area and fusiform gyrus) in at-risk adults may signal impending cognitive decline and serve as a prodromal marker of AD, we examined whether APOE ε4 carriers exhibit changes in brain response in regions subserving word retrieval and semantic knowledge. Eleven cognitively intact APOE ε4 older adults and 11 age, education, and family history of AD-matched APOE ε3 adults named aloud photographs of animals, tools, and vehicles during event-related fMRI. Results showed that, in the face of equivalent naming accuracy, APOE ε4 adults demonstrated more widespread brain response with greater signal change in the left fusiform gyrus, bilateral medial prefrontal cortex, and right perisylvian cortex. Findings are discussed in the context of possible compensatory mechanisms invoked to maintain performance in those at genetic risk for AD.
apolipoprotein E; language; fMRI; word retrieval; confrontation naming
Genetic factors are known to play a role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) vulnerability, yet less than 1% of incident AD cases are directly linked to genetic causes, suggesting that environmental variables likely play a role in the majority of cases. Several recent human and animal studies have examined the effects of behavioral factors, specifically psychological stress and exercise, on AD vulnerability. Numerous animal studies have found that, while stress exacerbates neuropathological changes associated with AD, exercise reduces these changes. Some human studies suggest that psychological stress can increase the risk of developing AD, while other studies suggest that exercise can significantly reduce AD risk. Most animal studies investigating the mechanisms responsible for the effects of these behavioral factors have focused on neuronal processes, including the effects of stress hormones and neurotrophic factors on the neuro-pathological hallmarks of AD, namely amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition and tau-phosphorylation. However, cumulative evidence indicates that, in humans, AD is associated with the presence of cerebrovascular disease, and cardiovascular risk factors are associated with increased risk of developing AD. There is an extensive literature demonstrating that behavioral factors, particularly stress and exercise, can powerfully modulate the pathophysiology of vascular disease. Thus, the following model proposes that the influence of stress and exercise on AD risk may be partially due to the effects of these behavioral factors on vascular homeostasis and pathology. These effects are likely due to both indirect modification of AD risk through alterations in vascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and aortic stiffening, as well as direct influence on the cerebrovasculature, including changes in cerebral blood flow, angiogenesis, and vascular disease. Future studies examining the effects of behavioral factors on AD risk should incorporate measures of both peripheral and cerebral vascular function to further our understanding of the mechanisms by which behavior can modify AD susceptibility. Greater knowledge of the molecular mechanisms behind these behavioral effects would further our understanding of the disease and lead to innovative treatment and preventive approaches.
This study examined whether distinct neuropsychological profiles could be delineated in a sample with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and whether white matter lesion (WML) burden contributed to MCI group differences. A heterogeneous, clinical sample of 70 older adults diagnosed with MCI was assessed using cognitive scores, and WML was quantified using a semi-automated, volumetric approach on T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images. Using cluster and discriminant analyses, three distinct groups (Memory/Language, Executive/Processing Speed, and Pure Memory) were empirically derived based on cognitive scores. Results also showed a dose dependent relationship of WML burden to MCI subgroup, with the Executive/Processing Speed subgroup demonstrating significantly higher levels of WML pathology when compared to the other subgroups. In addition, there was a dissociation of lesion type by the two most impaired subgroups (Memory/Language and Executive/Processing Speed) such that the Memory/Language subgroup showed higher periventricular lesion (PVL) and lower deep white matter lesion (DWML) volumes, whereas the Executive/Processing Speed demonstrated higher DWML and lower PVL volumes. Results demonstrate that distinct MCI subgroups can be empirically derived and reliably differentiated from a heterogeneous MCI sample, and that these profiles differ according to WML burden. Overall, findings suggest different underlying pathologies within MCI and contribute to our understanding of MCI subtypes.
Mild cognitive impairment; MCI; Neuropsychology; WML; White matter lesion; White matter hyperintensity; Aging; Cognition
We studied the rare case of an older adult with dementia following herpes zoster encephalitis (HZE). This 71-year-old woman presented to us approximately 1 year following resolution of a rapid-onset episode of HZE, and subsequently underwent neuropsychological and neuroimaging examinations. Cognitive assessment revealed impairments in general cognitive functioning, verbal and nonverbal memory, executive functions, speed of information processing, attention/working memory, and motor skills. The patient’s neuroimaging data, when compared to a demographically similar healthy control sample (n = 9), demonstrated moderate central and perisylvian brain volume loss, several subcortical lesions in the white matter, and resting state whole brain and hippocampal hypoperfusion. These findings highlight neuropsychological changes evident in a dementia syndrome of this type, and they suggest that early identification and treatment of HZE has implications for the preservation of long-term cognitive functioning.
Herpes zoster; Encephalitis; MRI; Cognition; Dementia
There is increasing consensus regarding the importance of operationally defining and measuring functional decline in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, few studies have directly examined functional abilities in MCI or its presumed subtypes and, to date, reported findings have been discrepant. Nondemented older adults (n = 120) were administered a comprehensive cognitive battery measuring multiple domains as well as a performance-based functional ability measure. Participants were characterized as either cognitively normal, amnestic MCI, or non-amnestic MCI. MCI individuals demonstrated decrements in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) relative to their cognitively normal counterparts. Specifically, participants with amnestic MCI demonstrated significant decrements in financial management, whereas those with non-amnestic MCI showed poorer performance in abilities related to health and safety. Moreover, decreased functional abilities were associated with decrements in global cognitive functioning but not memory or executive functions in the MCI participants. Finally, logistic regression demonstrated that functional abilities accurately predicted MCI subtype. Results support the need for better delineation of functional decline in MCI. Given the implications of functional status for MCI diagnosis and treatment, the direct assessment of functional abilities is recommended. Results further suggest performance-based IADL assessment may have utility in distinguishing MCI subtypes.
Mild cognitive impairment; Older adults; Neuropsychology; Activities of daily living; Amnestic; Nonamnestic
A wealth of evidence demonstrates that a prodromal period of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exists for some years prior to the appearance of significant cognitive and functional declines required for the clinical diagnosis. This prodromal period of decline is characterized by a number of different neuropsychological and brain changes, and reliable identification of individuals prior to the development of significant clinical symptoms remains a top priority of research. In this review we provide an overview of those neuropsychological changes. In particular, we examine specific domains of cognition that appear to be negatively affected during the prodromal period of AD, and we review newer analytic strategies designed to examine cognitive asymmetries or discrepancies between higher-order cognitive functions versus fundamental skills. Finally, we provide a critical examination of the clinical concept of Mild Cognitive Impairment and offer suggestions for an increased focus on the impact of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and CVD risk during the prodromal period of AD.
Neuropsychological contributions; Alzheimer’s disease; Prodromal expression; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Apolipoprotein E; Cerebrovascular; Very-Old