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Normative neuropsychological data are essential for interpretation of test performance in the context of demographic factors. The Mayo Normative Studies (MNS) aim to provide updated normative data for neuropsychological measures administered in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (MCSA), a population-based study of aging that randomly samples residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, from age- and sex-stratified groups. We examined demographic effects on neuropsychological measures and validated the regression-based norms in comparison to existing normative data developed in a similar sample.
The MNS includes cognitively unimpaired adults ≥30 years of age (n = 4,428) participating in the MCSA. Multivariable linear regressions were used to determine demographic effects on test performance. Regression-based normative formulas were developed by first converting raw scores to normalized scaled scores and then regressing on age, age2, sex, and education. Total and sex-stratified base rates of low scores (T < 40) were examined in an older adult validation sample and compared with Mayo’s Older Americans Normative Studies (MOANS) norms.
Independent linear regressions revealed variable patterns of linear and/or quadratic effects of age (r2 = 6–27% variance explained), sex (0–13%), and education (2–10%) across measures. MNS norms improved base rates of low performance in the older adult validation sample overall and in sex-specific patterns relative to MOANS.
Our results demonstrate the need for updated norms that consider complex demographic associations on test performance and that specifically exclude participants with mild cognitive impairment from the normative sample.
The Stricker Learning Span (SLS) is a computer-adaptive digital word list memory test specifically designed for remote assessment and self-administration on a web-based multi-device platform (Mayo Test Drive). We aimed to establish criterion validity of the SLS by comparing its ability to differentiate biomarker-defined groups to the person-administered Rey’s Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT).
Participants (N = 353; mean age = 71, SD = 11; 93% cognitively unimpaired [CU]) completed the AVLT during an in-person visit, the SLS remotely (within 3 months) and had brain amyloid and tau PET scans available (within 3 years). Overlapping groups were formed for 1) those on the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) continuum (amyloid PET positive, A+, n = 125) or not (A-, n = 228), and those with biological AD (amyloid and tau PET positive, A+T+, n = 55) vs no evidence of AD pathology (A−T−, n = 195). Analyses were repeated among CU participants only.
The SLS and AVLT showed similar ability to differentiate biomarker-defined groups when comparing AUROCs (p’s > .05). In logistic regression models, SLS contributed significantly to predicting biomarker group beyond age, education, and sex, including when limited to CU participants. Medium (A− vs A+) to large (A−T− vs A+T+) unadjusted effect sizes were observed for both SLS and AVLT. Learning and delay variables were similar in terms of ability to separate biomarker groups.
Remotely administered SLS performed similarly to in-person-administered AVLT in its ability to separate biomarker-defined groups, providing evidence of criterion validity. Results suggest the SLS may be sensitive to detecting subtle objective cognitive decline in preclinical AD.
To mitigate the impact of racism, sexism, and other systemic biases, it is essential for organizations to develop strategies to address their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) climates. The objective of this formative evaluation was to assess Mayo Clinic Department of Health Sciences Research (HSR) faculty and staff perceptions toward a proposed departmental DEI plan and to explore findings by diversity and professional subgroups.
Materials and methods:
Key plan components include recruitment and support for diverse individuals; training for all HSR employees and leaders; and a review system to capture diversity and inclusion feedback for leaders. Additional activities include building inclusion “nudges” into existing performance reviews. To assess pre-implementation beliefs about specific plan components, we polled attendees at a departmental staff meeting in July 2020.
Overall, respondents (n = 162) commonly endorsed a blinded promotion review process and DEI training for all staff and leaders as most important. In contrast, respondents expressed less support for plan activities related to “nudges.” However, attitudes among certain diversity or professional groups toward specific plan activities diverged from their non-diversity group counterparts. Qualitative feedback indicated awareness of the need to address DEI issues.
Overall, HSR faculty and staff respondents conveyed support for the plan. However, some specific plan activities were perceived differently by members of certain diversity or professional subgroups.
These findings present a DEI framework on which other institutions can build and point to future directions for how DEI activities may be differentially perceived by impacted faculty and staff.
Rey’s Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT) is a widely used word list memory test. We update normative data to include adjustment for verbal memory performance differences between men and women and illustrate the effect of this sex adjustment and the importance of excluding participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from normative samples.
This study advances the Mayo’s Older Americans Normative Studies (MOANS) by using a new population-based sample through the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, which randomly samples residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, from age- and sex-stratified groups. Regression-based normative T-score formulas were derived from 4428 cognitively unimpaired adults aged 30–91 years. Fully adjusted T-scores correct for age, sex, and education. We also derived T-scores that correct for (1) age or (2) age and sex. Test-retest reliability data are provided.
From raw score analyses, sex explained a significant amount of variance in performance above and beyond age (8–10%). Applying original age-adjusted MOANS norms to the current sample resulted in significantly fewer-than-expected participants with low delayed recall performance, particularly in women. After application of new T-scores adjusted only for age, even in normative data derived from this sample, these age-adjusted T-scores showed scores <40 T occurred more frequently among men and less frequently among women relative to T-scores that also adjusted for sex.
Our findings highlight the importance of using normative data that adjust for sex with measures of verbal memory and provide new normative data that allow for this adjustment for the AVLT.
Little is known about the association of cortical Aβ with depression and anxiety among cognitively normal (CN) elderly persons.
We conducted a cross-sectional study derived from the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota; involving CN persons aged ≥ 60 years that underwent PiB-PET scans and completed Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Cognitive diagnosis was made by an expert consensus panel. Participants were classified as having abnormal (≥1.4; PiB+) or normal PiB-PET (<1.4; PiB−) using a global cortical to cerebellar ratio. Multi-variable logistic regression analyses were performed to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) after adjusting for age and sex.
Of 1,038 CN participants (53.1% males), 379 were PiB+. Each one point symptom increase in the BDI (OR = 1.03; 1.00–1.06) and BAI (OR = 1.04; 1.01–1.08) was associated with increased odds of PiB-PET+. The number of participants with BDI > 13 (clinical depression) was greater in the PiB-PET+ than PiB-PET- group but the difference was not significant (OR = 1.42; 0.83–2.43). Similarly, the number of participants with BAI > 10 (clinical anxiety) was greater in the PiB-PET+ than PiB-PET− group but the difference was not significant (OR = 1.77; 0.97–3.22).
As expected, depression and anxiety levels were low in this community-dwelling sample, which likely reduced our statistical power. However, we observed an informative albeit weak association between increased BDI and BAI scores and elevated cortical amyloid deposition. This observation needs to be tested in a longitudinal cohort study.
Background: Several observational studies have suggested a link between health status and rate of decline among individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD). We sought to quantify the relationship in a population-based study of incident AD, and to compare global comorbidity ratings to counts of comorbid conditions and medications as predictors of AD progression.
Methods: This was a case-only cohort study arising from a population-based longitudinal study of memory and aging, in Cache County, Utah. Participants comprised 335 individuals with incident AD followed for up to 11 years. Patient descriptors included sex, age, education, dementia duration at baseline, and APOE genotype. Measures of health status made at each visit included the General Medical Health Rating (GMHR), number of comorbid medical conditions, and number of non-psychiatric medications. Dementia outcomes included the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Clinical Dementia Rating – sum of boxes (CDR-sb), and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI).
Results: Health status tended to fluctuate over time within individuals. None of the baseline medical variables (GMHR, comorbidities, and non-psychiatric medications) was associated with differences in rates of decline in longitudinal linear mixed effects models. Over time, low GMHR ratings, but not comorbidities or medications, were associated with poorer outcomes (MMSE: β = –1.07 p = 0.01; CDR-sb: β = 1.79 p < 0.001; NPI: β = 4.57 p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Given that time-varying GMHR, but not baseline GMHR, was associated with the outcomes, it seems likely that there is a dynamic relationship between medical and cognitive health. GMHR is a more sensitive measure of health than simple counts of comorbidities or medications. Since health status is a potentially modifiable risk factor, further study is warranted.
This synthetic review presents an approach to the use of biomarkers for the development of new treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD). After reviewing the process of translation as applied to AD, the paper provides a general update on what is known about the biology of the disease, and highlights currently available treatments. This is followed by a discussion of future drug development for AD emphasizing the roles that biomarkers are likely to play in this process: (1) define patients who are going to progress rapidly for the purpose of trial enrichment; (2) differentiate disease and therapeutically relevant AD subtypes; (3) assess the potential activity of specific therapies in vivo or ex vivo; and (4) measure the underlying disease state, so as to (a) detect disease and assess drug response in asymptomatic patients, (b) serve as a secondary outcome measure in clinical trials of symptomatic patients, and (c) decide if further development of a treatment should be stopped if not likely to be effective. Several examples are used to illustrate each biomarker utility in the AD context.
Objective: The relationship of apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype to lifetime cognitive decline was examined over 22 years in a large community-based population study.
Method: The sample for the present study was derived from follow-up of a probability sample of the adult household residents of East Baltimore. From the Baltimore cohort of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, genotype data were collected on 818 participants at the study's fourth wave between 2003 and 2004. Participants were administered the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) at all four study waves. Three tests of verbal learning – immediate recall, delayed recall, and word recognition – were completed at waves 3 and 4. The 659 participants for whom genetic data were available had also completed cognitive testing at all time points. Test scores and changes in these scores were examined by APOE genotype group (x/x or 4/x) in younger and older subcohorts defined by age at wave 4 (< or ≥ age 65).
Results: Cross-sectional wave 4 scores on all four cognitive tasks were lower in APOEε4 carriers when compared to non-carriers. In longitudinal univariate models ε4 carriers in the younger cohort demonstrated a greater annual rate of decline on a delayed recall task and MMSE. After adjusting for covariates only the decline in the delayed recall task was significant.
Conclusion: We report an association between APOE genotype and decline in delayed recall and possibly MMSE over this extended time period limited to younger individuals. The lack of an association between APOE and decline in older individuals is likely to be the result of survival bias. Although a clear association exists between APOE genotype and cognitive decline or dementia in late life, these findings suggest that over the lifespan the relationship between APOE and cognitive decline is more complicated.
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