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Exercise has been found to be important in maintaining neurocognitive health. However, the effect of exercise intensity level remains relatively underexplored. Thus, to test the hypothesis that self-paced high-intensity exercise and cardiorespiratory fitness (peak aerobic capacity; VO2peak) increase grey matter (GM) volume, we examined the effect of a 6-month exercise intervention on frontal lobe GM regions that support the executive functions in older adults.
Ninety-eight cognitively normal participants (age = 69.06 ± 5.2 years; n = 54 female) were randomised into either a self-paced high- or moderate-intensity cycle-based exercise intervention group, or a no-intervention control group. Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging and fitness assessment pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention, and 12-months post-intervention.
The intervention was found to increase fitness in the exercise groups, as compared with the control group (F = 9.88, p = <0.001). Changes in pre-to-post-intervention fitness were associated with increased volume in the right frontal lobe (β = 0.29, p = 0.036, r = 0.27), right supplementary motor area (β = 0.30, p = 0.031, r = 0.29), and both right (β = 0.32, p = 0.034, r = 0.30) and left gyrus rectus (β = 0.30, p = 0.037, r = 0.29) for intervention, but not control participants. No differences in volume were observed across groups.
At an aggregate level, six months of self-paced high- or moderate-intensity exercise did not increase frontal GM volume. However, experimentally-induced changes in individual cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with frontal GM volume in our sample of older adults. These results provide evidence of individual variability in exercise-induced fitness on brain structure.
Sleep quantity and quality are associated with executive function (EF) in experimental studies, and in individuals with sleep disorders. With advancing age, sleep quantity and quality decline, as does the ability to perform EF tasks, suggesting that sleep disruption may contribute to age-related EF declines. This cross-sectional cohort study tested the hypothesis that poorer sleep quality (i.e., the frequency and duration of awakenings) and/or quantity may partly account for age-related EF deficits.
Community-dwelling older adults (N = 184) completed actigraphic sleep monitoring then a range of EF tasks. Two EF factors were extracted using exploratory structural equation modeling. Sleep variables did not mediate the relationship between age and EF factors. Post hoc moderated mediation analyses were conducted to test whether cognitive reserve compensates for sleep-related EF deficits, using years of education as a proxy measure of cognitive reserve.
We found a significant interaction between cognitive reserve and the number and frequency of awakenings, explaining a small (approximately 3%), but significant amount of variance in EF. Specifically, in individuals with fewer than 11 years of education, greater sleep disturbance was associated with poorer EF, but sleep did not impact EF in those with more education. There was no association between age and sleep quantity.
This study highlights the role of cognitive reserve in the sleep–EF relationship, suggesting individuals with greater cognitive reserve may be able to counter the impact of disturbed sleep on EF. Therefore, improving sleep may confer some protection against EF deficits in vulnerable older adults.
The criteria for objective memory impairment in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are vaguely defined. Aggregating the number of abnormal memory scores (NAMS) is one way to operationalise memory impairment, which we hypothesised would predict progression to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
As part of the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing, 896 older adults who did not have dementia were administered a psychometric battery including three neuropsychological tests of memory, yielding 10 indices of memory. We calculated the number of memory scores corresponding to z ≤ −1.5 (i.e., NAMS) for each participant. Incident diagnosis of AD dementia was established by consensus of an expert panel after 3 years.
Of the 722 (80.6%) participants who were followed up, 54 (7.5%) developed AD dementia. There was a strong correlation between NAMS and probability of developing AD dementia (r = .91, p = .0003). Each abnormal memory score conferred an additional 9.8% risk of progressing to AD dementia. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for NAMS was 0.87 [95% confidence interval (CI) .81–.93, p < .01]. The odds ratio for NAMS was 1.67 (95% CI 1.40–2.01, p < .01) after correcting for age, sex, education, estimated intelligence quotient, subjective memory complaint, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score and apolipoprotein E ϵ4 status.
Aggregation of abnormal memory scores may be a useful way of operationalising objective memory impairment, predicting incident AD dementia and providing prognostic stratification for individuals with MCI.
Dementia guidelines propose the use of nonpharmacological interventions for sleep disturbances for older people. Based on available reviews, it seems most likely that multicomponent interventions have the strongest potential to be effective in improving sleep. However, a detailed description of multicomponent interventions is missing. This systematic review aims to identify, describe, and summarize multicomponent, nonpharmacological interventions to reduce or avoid sleep disturbances in nursing home residents.
This review followed established methodological frameworks for systematic evidence syntheses. A computerized search was conducted in December 2018, using the databases PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, and Cochrane Library. Two independent reviewers assessed all search results to identify eligible studies and assessed studies’ methodological quality following the Cochrane Risk of Bias methodology for randomized controlled trials and the CASP Appraisal Checklist for controlled trials.
Evaluation studies of any design investigating multicomponent interventions were included, except case studies. Components of included intervention programs were analyzed applying the TIDieR and CReDECI 2 criteria.
A total of 2056 studies were identified through the database search; ten publications about nine interventions met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The identified interventions can be summarized assigned to the categories “daytime activities,” “nighttime activities,” “staff training,” and “light exposure.” The approaches showed similarities and differences in procedures, materials, modes of delivery, intervention provider, and intervention period. None of the studies described any intended interactions between components or considered context characteristics in intervention modeling as well as internal and external facilitators or barriers influencing delivery of intervention. We identified positive or mixed positive effects for sleep-related outcomes for the mentioned categories.
The analysis of included interventions demonstrates somehow promising results, although findings are difficult to interpret as interventions were not well described, and the challenges of developing and evaluating complex interventions were not sufficiently acknowledged.
This study investigated the characteristics of subjective memory complaints (SMCs) and their association with current and future cognitive functions.
A cohort of 209 community-dwelling individuals without dementia aged 47–90 years old was recruited for this 3-year study. Participants underwent neuropsychological and clinical assessments annually. Participants were divided into SMCs and non-memory complainers (NMCs) using a single question at baseline and a memory complaints questionnaire following baseline, to evaluate differential patterns of complaints. In addition, comprehensive assessment of memory complaints was undertaken to evaluate whether severity and consistency of complaints differentially predicted cognitive function.
SMC and NMC individuals were significantly different on various features of SMCs. Greater overall severity (but not consistency) of complaints was significantly associated with current and future cognitive functioning.
SMC individuals present distinctive features of memory complaints as compared to NMCs. Further, the severity of complaints was a significant predictor of future cognition. However, SMC did not significantly predict change over time in this sample. These findings warrant further research into the specific features of SMCs that may portend subsequent neuropathological and cognitive changes when screening individuals at increased future risk of dementia.
Recent evidence suggests that exercise plays a role in cognition and that the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) can be divided into dorsal and ventral subregions based on distinct connectivity patterns.
To examine the effect of physical activity and division of the PCC on brain functional connectivity measures in subjective memory complainers (SMC) carrying the epsilon 4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE 4) allele.
Participants were 22 SMC carrying the APOE ɛ4 allele (ɛ4+; mean age 72.18 years) and 58 SMC non-carriers (ɛ4–; mean age 72.79 years). Connectivity of four dorsal and ventral seeds was examined. Relationships between PCC connectivity and physical activity measures were explored.
ɛ4+ individuals showed increased connectivity between the dorsal PCC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the ventral PCC and supplementary motor area (SMA). Greater levels of physical activity correlated with the magnitude of ventral PCC–SMA connectivity.
The results provide the first evidence that ɛ4+ individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline show distinct alterations in dorsal and ventral PCC functional connectivity.
The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism Met allele exacerbates amyloid (Aβ) related decline in episodic memory (EM) and hippocampal volume (HV) over 36–54 months in preclinical Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the extent to which Aβ+ and BDNF Val66Met is related to circulating markers of BDNF (e.g. serum) is unknown. We aimed to determine the effect of Aβ and the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on levels of serum mBDNF, EM, and HV at baseline and over 18-months.
Non-demented older adults (n = 446) underwent Aβ neuroimaging and BDNF Val66Met genotyping. EM and HV were assessed at baseline and 18 months later. Fasted blood samples were obtained from each participant at baseline and at 18-month follow-up. Aβ PET neuroimaging was used to classify participants as Aβ– or Aβ+.
At baseline, Aβ+ adults showed worse EM impairment and lower serum mBDNF levels relative to Aβ- adults. BDNF Val66Met polymorphism did not affect serum mBDNF, EM, or HV at baseline. When considered over 18-months, compared to Aβ– Val homozygotes, Aβ+ Val homozygotes showed significant decline in EM and HV but not serum mBDNF. Similarly, compared to Aβ+ Val homozygotes, Aβ+ Met carriers showed significant decline in EM and HV over 18-months but showed no change in serum mBDNF.
While allelic variation in BDNF Val66Met may influence Aβ+ related neurodegeneration and memory loss over the short term, this is not related to serum mBDNF. Longer follow-up intervals may be required to further determine any relationships between serum mBDNF, EM, and HV in preclinical AD.
Curcumin therapy in animals has produced positive cognitive and behavioural outcomes; results of human trials, however, have been inconsistent. In this study, we report the results of a 12-month, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study that investigated the ability of a curcumin formulation to prevent cognitive decline in a population of community-dwelling older adults. Individuals (n 96) ingested either placebo or 1500 mg/d BiocurcumaxTM for 12 months. A battery of clinical and cognitive measures was administered at baseline and at the 6-month and 12-month follow-up assessments. A significant time×treatment group interaction was observed for the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (repeated-measures analysis; time×treatment; F=3·85, P<0·05). Subsequent analysis revealed that this association was driven by a decline in function of the placebo group at 6 months that was not observed in the curcumin treatment group. No differences were observed between the groups for all other clinical and cognitive measures. Our findings suggest that further longitudinal assessment is required to investigate changes in cognitive outcome measures, ideally in conjunction with biological markers of neurodegeneration.
FFQ are commonly used to examine the association between diet and disease. They are the most practical method for usual dietary data collection as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer. In Australia, the Cancer Council of Victoria FFQ (CCVFFQ) version 2 and the online Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation FFQ (CSIROFFQ) are used. The aim of our study was to establish the level of agreement between nutrient intakes captured using the online CSIROFFQ and the paper-based CCVFFQ. The CCVFFQ and the online CSIROFFQ were completed by 136 healthy participants. FFQ responses were analysed to give g per d intake of a range of nutrients. Agreement between twenty-six nutrient intakes common to both FFQ was measured by a variety of methods. Nutrient intake levels that were significantly correlated between the two FFQ were carbohydrates, total fat, Na and MUFA. When assessing ranking of nutrients into quintiles, on average, 56 % of the participants (for all nutrients) were classified into the same or adjacent quintiles in both FFQ, with the highest percentage agreement for sugar. On average, 21 % of participants were grossly misclassified by three or four quintiles, with the highest percentage misclassification for fibre and Fe. Quintile agreement was similar to that reported by other studies, and we concluded that both FFQ are suitable tools for dividing participants’ nutrient intake levels into high- and low-consumption groups. Use of either FFQ was not appropriate for obtaining accurate estimates of absolute nutrient intakes.
Autobiographical memory (ABM), personal semantic memory (PSM), and autonoetic consciousness are affected in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but their relationship with Alzheimer's disease (AD) biomarkers are unclear.
Forty-five participants (healthy controls (HC) = 31, MCI = 14) completed the Episodic ABM Interview and a battery of memory tests. Thirty-one (HC = 22, MCI = 9) underwent β-amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Fourteen participants (HC = 9, MCI = 5) underwent one imaging modality.
Unlike PSM, ABM differentiated between diagnostic categories but did not relate to AD biomarkers. Personal semantic memory was related to neocortical β-amyloid burden after adjusting for age and apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4. Autonoetic consciousness was not associated with AD biomarkers, and was not impaired in MCI.
Autobiographical memory was impaired in MCI participants but was not related to neocortical amyloid burden, suggesting that personal memory systems are impacted by differing disease mechanisms, rather than being uniformly underpinned by β-amyloid. Episodic and semantic ABM impairment represent an important AD prodrome.
Although beta-amyloid, anxiety and depression have been linked cross-sectionally to reduced memory function in healthy older adults without dementia, prospective data evaluating these associations are lacking. Using data from an observational cohort study of 178 healthy older adults without dementia followed for 3 years, we found that anxiety symptoms significantly moderated the relationship between beta-amyloid level and decline in verbal (Cohen's d = 0.65) and episodic (Cohen's d = 0.38) memory. Anxiety symptoms were additionally linked to greater decline in executive function, irrespective of beta-amyloid and other risk factors. These findings suggest that interventions to mitigate anxiety symptoms may help delay memory decline in otherwise healthy older adults with elevated beta-amyloid.
The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) Flagship Study of Ageing is a prospective study of 1,112 individuals (211 with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 133 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 768 healthy controls (HCs)). Here we report diagnostic and cognitive findings at the first (18-month) follow-up of the cohort. The first aim was to compute rates of transition from HC to MCI, and MCI to AD. The second aim was to characterize the cognitive profiles of individuals who transitioned to a more severe disease stage compared with those who did not.
Eighteen months after baseline, participants underwent comprehensive cognitive testing and diagnostic review, provided an 80 ml blood sample, and completed health and lifestyle questionnaires. A subgroup also underwent amyloid PET and MRI neuroimaging.
The diagnostic status of 89.9% of the cohorts was determined (972 were reassessed, 28 had died, and 112 did not return for reassessment). The 18-month cohort comprised 692 HCs, 82 MCI cases, 197 AD patients, and one Parkinson's disease dementia case. The transition rate from HC to MCI was 2.5%, and cognitive decline in HCs who transitioned to MCI was greatest in memory and naming domains compared to HCs who remained stable. The transition rate from MCI to AD was 30.5%.
There was a high retention rate after 18 months. Rates of transition from healthy aging to MCI, and MCI to AD, were consistent with established estimates. Follow-up of this cohort over longer periods will elucidate robust predictors of future cognitive decline.
To date evidence of the relationship between cognition and Aβ amyloid during the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has been inconsistent. This study aimed to describe the nature and magnitude of the relationship between Aβ amyloid and cognitive performance of individuals without dementia.
Composite cognitive measures were developed from the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle study neuropsychological test battery using data from 768 healthy older adults and 133 adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A subgroup of this sample (174 healthy, 53 MCI) underwent neuroimaging for Aβ amyloid.
Within the MCI group individuals with high Aβ amyloid showed selective impairment for memory compared with those with low Aβ amyloid; however, this difference was not evident in the healthy group.
The current findings provide further evidence of the relationship between Aβ amyloid and cognition, with memory impairment being the primary symptom of the underlying disease during the prodromal phases of AD.
The potential role of supplementing sex steroids for the prevention and delay of age-related cognitive decline has received a great deal of recent interest. Although the biological plausibility of hormone treatment has received considerable support, clinical studies of cognitive functioning after hormonal treatment in postmenopausal women with and without dementia have produced mixed results. Much less attention has been given to the corresponding role of androgens in men. In order to establish the relevance of hormonal supplementation for men in delaying or preventing cognitive decline, it is of importance to evaluate both adrenal and gonadal contributions to androgen status. Additionally, consideration must also be given to the potential interactions of androgens with risk and protective factors (e.g., apolipoprotein E genotype and education). Here we review experimental and epidemiological studies of the significance of androgens for cognitive function.
Background: The AIBL study, which commenced in November 2006, is a two-center prospective study of a cohort of 1112 volunteers aged 60+. The cohort includes 211 patients meeting NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD) (180 probable and 31 possible). We aimed to identify factors associated with rapid cognitive decline over 18 months in this cohort of AD patients.
Methods: We defined rapid cognitive decline as a drop of 6 points or more on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) between baseline and 18-month follow-up. Analyses were also conducted with a threshold of 4, 5, 7 and 8 points, as well as with and without subjects who had died or were too severely affected to be interviewed at 18 months and after, both including and excluding subjects whose AD diagnosis was “possible” AD. We sought correlations between rapid cognitive decline and demographic, clinical and biological variables.
Results: Of the 211 AD patients recruited at baseline, we had available data for 156 (73.9%) patients at 18 months. Fifty-one patients were considered rapid cognitive decliners (32.7%). A higher Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR) and higher CDR “sum of boxes” score at baseline were the major predictors of rapid cognitive decline in this population. Furthermore, using logistic regression model analysis, patients treated with a cholinesterase inhibitor (CheI) had a higher risk of being rapid cognitive decliners, as did males and those of younger age.
Conclusions: Almost one third of patients satisfying established research criteria for AD experienced rapid cognitive decline. Worse baseline functional and cognitive status and treatment with a CheI were the major factors associated with rapid cognitive decline over 18 months in this population.