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Physical and recreational activities are behaviors that may modify risk of late-life cognitive decline. We sought to examine the role of retrospectively self-reported midlife (age 40) physical and recreational activity engagement – and self-reported change in these activities from age 40 to initial study visit – in predicting late-life cognition.
Data were obtained from 898 participants in a longitudinal study of cognitive aging in demographically and cognitively diverse older adults (Age: range = 49–93 years, M = 75, SD = 7.19). Self-reported physical and recreational activity participation at age 40 and at the initial study visit were quantified using the Life Experiences Assessment Form. Change in activities was modeled using latent change scores. Cognitive outcomes were obtained annually (range = 2–17 years) using the Spanish and English Neuropsychological Assessment Scales, which measure verbal episodic memory, semantic memory, visuospatial processing, and executive functioning.
Physical activity engagement at age 40 was strongly associated with cognitive performance in all four domains at the initial visit and with global cognitive slope. However, change in physical activities after age 40 was not associated with cognitive outcomes. In contrast, recreational activity engagement – both at age 40 and change after 40 – was predictive of cognitive intercepts and slope.
Retrospectively self-reported midlife physical and recreational activity engagement were strongly associated with late-life cognition – both level of performance and rate of future decline. However, the data suggest that maintenance of recreational activity engagement (e.g., writing, taking classes, reading) after age 40 is more strongly associated with late-life cognition than continued maintenance of physical activity levels.
To model cognitive reserve (CR) longitudinally in a neurodiverse pediatric sample using a residual index approach, and to test the criterion and construct validity of this index.
Participants were N = 115 children aged 9.5–13 years at baseline (MAge = 10.48 years, SDAge = 0.61), and n = 43 (37.4%) met criteria for ADHD. The CR index represented variance in Matrix Reasoning scores from the WASI that was unexplained by MRI-based brain variables (bilateral hippocampal volumes, total gray matter volumes, and total white matter hypointensity volumes) or demographics (age and sex).
At baseline, the CR index predicted math computation ability (estimate = 0.50, SE = 0.07, p < .001), and word reading ability (estimate = 0.26, SE = 0.10, p = .012). Longitudinally, change in CR over time was not associated with change in math computation ability (estimate = −0.02, SE = 0.03, p < .513), but did predict change in word reading ability (estimate = 0.10, SE = 0.03, p < .001). Change in CR was also found to moderate the relationship between change in word reading ability and white matter hypointensity volume (estimate = 0.10, SE = 0.05, p = .045).
Evidence for the criterion validity of this CR index is encouraging, but somewhat mixed, while construct validity was evidenced through interaction between CR, brain, and word reading ability. Future research would benefit from optimization of the CR index through careful selection of brain variables for a pediatric sample.
Early-life socioeconomic status (SES) and adversity are associated with late-life cognition and risk of dementia. We examined the association between early-life SES and adversity and late-life cross-sectional cognitive outcomes as well as global cognitive decline, hypothesizing that adulthood SES would mediate these associations.
Our sample (N = 837) was a racially and ethnically diverse cohort of non-Hispanic/Latino White (48%), Black (27%), and Hispanic/Latino (19%) participants from Northern California. Participant addresses were geocoded to the level of the census tract, and US Census Tract 2010 variables (e.g., percent with high school diploma) were extracted and combined to create a neighborhood SES composite. We used multilevel latent variable models to estimate early-life (e.g., parental education, whether participant ever went hungry) and adult (participant’s education, main occupation) SES factors and their associations with cross-sectional and longitudinal cognitive outcomes of episodic memory, semantic memory, executive function, and spatial ability.
Child and adult factors were strongly related to domain-specific cognitive intercepts (0.20–0.48 SD per SD of SES factor); in contrast, SES factors were not related to global cognitive change (0.001–0.01 SD per year per SD of SES factor). Adulthood SES mediated a large percentage (68–75%) of the total early-life effect on cognition.
Early-life sociocontextual factors are more strongly associated with cross-sectional late-life cognitive performance compared to cognitive change; this effect is largely mediated through associations with adulthood SES.
Brain reserve, cognitive reserve, and education are thought to protect against late-life cognitive decline, but these variables have not been directly compared to one another in the same model, using future cognitive and functional decline as outcomes. We sought to determine whether the influence of these protective factors on executive function (EF) and daily function decline was dependent upon Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology severity, as measured by the total tau to beta-amyloid (T-τ/Aβ1-42) ratio in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Participants were 1201 older adult volunteers in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) study. Brain reserve was defined using a composite index of structural brain volumes (total brain matter, hippocampus, and white matter hyperintensity). Cognitive reserve was defined as the variance in episodic memory performance not explained by brain integrity and demographics.
At higher levels of T-τ/Aβ1-42, brain and cognitive reserve predicted slower decline in EF. Only brain reserve attenuated decline at lower levels of T-τ/Aβ1-42. Education had no independent association with cognitive decline.
These results point to a hierarchy of protection against aging- and disease-associated cognitive decline. When pathology is low, only structural brain integrity predicts rate of future EF decline. The ability of cognitive reserve to predict future EF decline becomes stronger as CSF biomarker evidence of AD increases. Although education is typically thought of as a proxy for cognitive reserve, it did not show any protective effects on cognition after accounting for brain integrity and the residual cognitive reserve index.
This study compared the level of education and tests from multiple cognitive domains as proxies for cognitive reserve.
The participants were educationally, ethnically, and cognitively diverse older adults enrolled in a longitudinal aging study. We examined independent and interactive effects of education, baseline cognitive scores, and MRI measures of cortical gray matter change on longitudinal cognitive change.
Baseline episodic memory was related to cognitive decline independent of brain and demographic variables and moderated (weakened) the impact of gray matter change. Education moderated (strengthened) the gray matter change effect. Non-memory cognitive measures did not incrementally explain cognitive decline or moderate gray matter change effects.
Episodic memory showed strong construct validity as a measure of cognitive reserve. Education effects on cognitive decline were dependent upon the rate of atrophy, indicating education effectively measures cognitive reserve only when atrophy rate is low. Results indicate that episodic memory has clinical utility as a predictor of future cognitive decline and better represents the neural basis of cognitive reserve than other cognitive abilities or static proxies like education.
Objectives: The current study aimed to examine if televised media about mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) framed in a sensationalized manner had a negative impact on cognitive functioning and persistent mTBI symptoms. Methods: One hundred two participants (MAge=37.16; SD=22.61) with a history of post-acute mTBI, recruited through a community research registry and an undergraduate recruitment system, were included in this study. Participants were assessed with a measure of health literacy, the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA), and randomized to watch either a sensationalized or non-sensationalized news clip focused on mTBI. They were then assessed with the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ), Patient Reported Outcome Measures Information System (PROMIS) Depression scale, and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (PCL-5). Results: Bayesian analyses indicated that sensationalized media—alone (βPASAT=−0.08; βRPQ=−0.08) or in the context of covariates (βPASAT=−0.11; βRPQ=−0.14)—was not a strong predictor of PASAT score or post-concussion syndrome symptom severity. Conclusions: Although media sensationalization of mTBI symptoms is not desirable, this study suggests that one brief exposure to sensationalized information may not have a meaningful immediate impact on the cognitive functioning or symptom reporting of individuals with a history of mTBI. Future research should examine long-term and downstream effects of sensationalized media reporting in samples with greater diversity of TBI history. (JINS, 2019, 25, 90–100)
Longitudinal normative data obtained from a robust elderly sample (i.e., believed to be free from neurodegenerative disease) are sparse. The purpose of the present study was to develop reliable change indices (RCIs) that can assist with interpretation of test score changes relative to a healthy sample of older adults (ages 50+). Participants were 4217 individuals who completed at least three annual evaluations at one of 34 past and present Alzheimer’s Disease Centers throughout the United States. All participants were diagnosed as cognitively normal at every study visit, which ranged from three to nine approximately annual evaluations. One-year RCIs were calculated for 11 neuropsychological variables in the Uniform Data Set by regressing follow-up test scores onto baseline test scores, age, education, visit number, post-baseline assessment interval, race, and sex in a linear mixed effects regression framework. In addition, the cumulative frequency distributions of raw score changes were examined to describe the base rates of test score changes. Baseline test score, age, education, and race were robust predictors of follow-up test scores across most tests. The effects of maturation (aging) were more pronounced on tests related to attention and executive functioning, whereas practice effects were more pronounced on tests of episodic and semantic memory. Interpretation of longitudinal changes on 11 cognitive test variables can be facilitated through the use of reliable change intervals and base rates of score changes in this robust sample of older adults. A Web-based calculator is provided to assist neuropsychologists with interpretation of longitudinal change. (JINS, 2015, 21, 558–567)
The base rates of abnormal test scores in cognitively normal samples have been a focus of recent research. The goal of the current study is to illustrate how Bayes’ theorem uses these base rates—along with the same base rates in cognitively impaired samples and prevalence rates of cognitive impairment—to yield probability values that are more useful for making judgments about the absence or presence of cognitive impairment. Correlation matrices, means, and standard deviations were obtained from the Wechsler Memory Scale –4th Edition (WMS-IV) Technical and Interpretive Manual and used in Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the base rates of abnormal test scores in the standardization and special groups (mixed clinical) samples. Bayes’ theorem was applied to these estimates to identify probabilities of normal cognition based on the number of abnormal test scores observed. Abnormal scores were common in the standardization sample (65.4% scoring below a scaled score of 7 on at least one subtest) and more common in the mixed clinical sample (85.6% scoring below a scaled score of 7 on at least one subtest). Probabilities varied according to the number of abnormal test scores, base rates of normal cognition, and cutoff scores. The results suggest that interpretation of base rates obtained from cognitively healthy samples must also account for data from cognitively impaired samples. Bayes’ theorem can help neuropsychologists answer questions about the probability that an individual examinee is cognitively healthy based on the number of abnormal test scores observed. (JINS, 2015, 21, 1–9)
The Geriatric Anxiety Scale (GAS; Segal et al. (Segal, D. L., June, A., Payne, M., Coolidge, F. L. and Yochim, B. (2010). Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24, 709–714. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.05.002) is a self-report measure of anxiety that was designed to address unique issues associated with anxiety assessment in older adults. This study is the first to use item response theory (IRT) to examine the psychometric properties of a measure of anxiety in older adults.
A large sample of older adults (n = 581; mean age = 72.32 years, SD = 7.64 years, range = 60 to 96 years; 64% women; 88% European American) completed the GAS. IRT properties were examined. The presence of differential item functioning (DIF) or measurement bias by age and sex was assessed, and a ten-item short form of the GAS (called the GAS-10) was created.
All GAS items had discrimination parameters of 1.07 or greater. Items from the somatic subscale tended to have lower discrimination parameters than items on the cognitive or affective subscales. Two items were flagged for DIF, but the impact of the DIF was negligible. Women scored significantly higher than men on the GAS and its subscales. Participants in the young-old group (60 to 79 years old) scored significantly higher on the cognitive subscale than participants in the old-old group (80 years old and older).
Results from the IRT analyses indicated that the GAS and GAS-10 have strong psychometric properties among older adults. We conclude by discussing implications and future research directions.
Background: This study determined the reliability, validity, and factor structure of self-report emotions in persons with mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) relative to controls.
Methods: Participants (mild AD, n = 73; MCI, n = 159; controls, n = 96) rated current emotions with the Visual Analogue Mood Scales (Stern, 1997).
Results: Internal consistency reliabilities were comparable across groups, as were the factor structures of emotion. Persons with AD reported more negative affect (NA) than persons with MCI and controls. The emotion that most differentiated groups was confusion. NA and PA may be more bipolar in persons with AD than for persons with MCI and controls.
Conclusions: The underlying structure of affect was similar in persons with mild AD, MCI, and controls. Further, persons with MCI appeared to be “transitional” between cognitive health and dementia with regard to mood and affect. That is, participants with MCI tended to have affect scores that were intermediate between those with AD and controls. Implications for interventions to improve emotional well-being in AD and MCI are discussed.
To validate the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB) List Learning test as a predictor of future multi-domain cognitive decline and conversion to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), participants from a longitudinal research registry at a national AD Center were, at baseline, assigned to one of three groups (control, mild cognitive impairment [MCI], or AD), based solely on a diagnostic algorithm for the NAB List Learning test (Gavett et al., 2009), and followed for 1–3 years. Rate of change on common neuropsychological tests and time to convert to a consensus diagnosis of AD were evaluated to test the hypothesis that these outcomes would differ between groups (AD>MCI>control). Hypotheses were tested using linear regression models (n = 251) and Cox proportional hazards models (n = 265). The AD group declined significantly more rapidly than controls on Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), animal fluency, and Digit Symbol; and more rapidly than the MCI group on MMSE and Hooper Visual Organization Test. The MCI group declined more rapidly than controls on animal fluency and CERAD Trial 3. The MCI and AD groups had significantly shorter time to conversion to a consensus diagnosis of AD than controls. The predictive validity of the NAB List Learning algorithm makes it a clinically useful tool for the assessment of older adults. (JINS, 2010, 16, 651–660.)
Measures of episodic memory are often used to identify Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB) List Learning test is a promising tool for the memory assessment of older adults due to its simplicity of administration, good psychometric properties, equivalent forms, and extensive normative data. This study examined the diagnostic utility of the NAB List Learning test for differentiating cognitively healthy, MCI, and AD groups. One hundred fifty-three participants (age: range, 57–94 years; M = 74 years; SD, 8 years; sex: 61% women) were diagnosed by a multidisciplinary consensus team as cognitively normal, amnestic MCI (aMCI; single and multiple domain), or AD, independent of NAB List Learning performance. In univariate analyses, receiver operating characteristics curve analyses were conducted for four demographically-corrected NAB List Learning variables. Additionally, multivariate ordinal logistic regression and fivefold cross-validation was used to create and validate a predictive model based on demographic variables and NAB List Learning test raw scores. At optimal cutoff scores, univariate sensitivity values ranged from .58 to .92 and univariate specificity values ranged from .52 to .97. Multivariate ordinal regression produced a model that classified individuals with 80% accuracy and good predictive power. (JINS, 2009, 15, 121–129.)
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