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Examining the multifactorial nature of cognitive aging with covariance analysis of positron emission tomography data

  • KAREN L. SIEDLECKI (a1), CHRISTIAN G. HABECK (a1) (a2), ADAM M. BRICKMAN (a1) (a2), YUNGLIN GAZES (a1) and YAAKOV STERN (a1) (a2)...


Research has indicated that there may be age-related and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) -related reductions in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the brain. This study explored differences in age- and AD-related rCBF patterns in the context of cognitive aging using a multivariate approach to the analysis of H215O PET data. First, an rCBF covariance pattern that distinguishes between a group of younger and older adults was identified. Individual subject’s expression of the identified age-related pattern was significantly correlated with their performance on tests of memory, even after controlling for the effect of age. This finding suggests that subject expression of the covariance pattern explained additional variation in performance on the memory tasks. The age-related covariance pattern was then compared to an AD-related covariance pattern. There was little evidence that the two covariance patterns were similar, and the age-related pattern did a poor job of differentiating between cognitively-healthy older adults and those with probable AD. The findings from this study are consistent with the multifactorial nature of cognitive aging. (JINS, 2009, 15, 973–981.)


Corresponding author

*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Karen Siedlecki, 630 W. 168th Street, New York, New York 10032. E-mail:


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