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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.
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.
The Everyday Compensation scale (EComp) is an informant-rated questionnaire designed to measure cognitively based compensatory strategies that support both everyday memory and executive function in the context of completing instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Although previous findings provided early support for the usefulness of the initial version of EComp, the current paper further describes the development, refinement, and validation of EComp as a new assessment tool of compensation for IADLs.
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to examine its factor structure. Convergent and predictive validity was evaluated by examining the relationship between EComp and markers of disease, including diagnosis, cognitive change, and trajectories of functional abilities.
CFA supported a general compensation factor after accounting for variance attributable to IADL domain-specific engagement. The clinical groups differed in compensatory strategy use, with those with dementia using significantly fewer compensatory strategies as compared to individuals with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment. Greater levels of compensation were related to better cognitive functions (memory and executive function) and functional abilities, as well as slower rates of cognitive and functional decline over time. Importantly, higher levels of compensation were associated with less functional difficulties and subsequently slower rate of functional decline independent of the level of cognitive impairment.
Engagement in compensatory strategies among older adults has important implications for prolonging functional independence, even in those with declining cognitive functioning. Results suggest that the revised EComp is likely to be useful in measuring cognitively based compensation in older adults.
Objectives: Careful characterization of how functional decline co-evolves with cognitive decline in older adults has yet to be well described. Most models of neurodegenerative disease postulate that cognitive decline predates and potentially leads to declines in everyday functional abilities; however, there is mounting evidence that subtle decline in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) may be detectable in older individuals who are still cognitively normal. Methods: The present study examines how the relationship between change in cognition and change in IADLs are best characterized among older adults who participated in the ACTIVE trial. Neuropsychological and IADL data were analyzed for 2802 older adults who were cognitively normal at study baseline and followed for up to 10 years. Results: Findings demonstrate that subtle, self-perceived difficulties in performing IADLs preceded and predicted subsequent declines on cognitive tests of memory, reasoning, and speed of processing. Conclusions: Findings are consistent with a growing body of literature suggesting that subjective changes in everyday abilities can be associated with more precipitous decline on objective cognitive measures and the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. (JINS, 2018, 24, 104–112)
Older adults with early forms of neurodegenerative disease are at risk for functional disability, which is often defined by the loss of independence in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). The current study investigated the influence of mild changes in everyday functional abilities (referred to as functional limitations) on risk for development of incident functional disability. A total of 407 participants, who were considered cognitively normal or diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at baseline, were followed longitudinally over an average 4.1 years (range=0.8–9.2 years). Informant-based ratings from the Everyday Cognition (ECog; Farias et al., 2008) and the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (Lawton & Brody, 1969) scales assessed the degree of functional limitations and incident IADL disability, respectively. Cox proportional hazards models revealed that more severe functional limitations (as measured by the Total ECog score) at baseline were associated with approximately a four-fold increased risk of developing IADL disability a few years later. Among the ECog domains, functional limitations in Everyday Planning, Everyday Memory, and Everyday Visuospatial domains were associated with the greatest risk of incident functional disability. These results remained robust even after controlling for participants’ neuropsychological functioning on tests of executive functions and episodic memory. Current findings indicate that early functional limitations have prognostic value in identifying older adults at risk for developing functional disability. Findings highlight the importance of developing interventions to support everyday abilities related to memory, executive function, and visuospatial skills in an effort to delay loss of independence in IADLs. (JINS, 2015, 21, 688–698)
The recently developed Everyday Cognition scales (ECog) measure multiple cognitively relevant functional domains (e.g., Everyday Memory, Everyday Language, Everyday Visuospatial abilities, and three everyday executive domains). The present study further evaluated the validity of the ECog by examining its relationship with objective measures of neuropsychological function, and neurobiological markers of disease as reflected by structural neuroimaging. Participants included 474 older adults (244 normals, 142 with MCI, 88 with dementia). The neuropsychological domains measured were episodic memory, semantic memory, spatial ability, and executive functioning. Brain MRI volumes included total brain (BV), hippocampus (HC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Neuropsychological measures of episodic memory and executive function were most consistently related to the ECog domains; spatial abilities had a specific relationship to the Everyday Visuospatial ECog domain. HC and BV volumes were related to most ECog domains, while DLPFC volume was independently related to two everyday executive domains (Everyday Planning and Everyday Organization). The pattern of associations varied somewhat as a function of diagnosis. Episodic memory and HC had more consistent associations with the ECog domains in older adults with MCI/dementia than in cognitively normal elderly. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–12)
Cognitive reserve is thought to reflect life experiences. Which experiences contribute to reserve and their relative importance is not understood. Subjects were 652 autopsied cases from the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Orders Study. Reserve was defined as the residual variance of the regressions of cognitive factors on brain pathology and was captured in a latent variable that was regressed on potential determinants of reserve. Neuropathology variables included Alzheimer's disease markers, Lewy bodies, infarcts, microinfarcts, and brain weight. Cognition was measured with six cognitive domain scores. Determinants of reserve were socioeconomic status (SES), education, leisure cognitive activities at age 40 (CA40) and at study enrollment (CAbaseline) in late life. The four exogenous predictors of reserve were weakly to moderately inter-correlated. In a multivariate model, all except SES had statistically significant effects on Reserve, the strongest of which were CA40 (β = .31) and CAbaseline (β = .28). The Education effect was negative in the full model (β = –.25). Results suggest that leisure cognitive activities throughout adulthood are more important than education in determining reserve. Discrepancies between cognitive activity and education may be informative in estimating late life reserve. (JINS, 2011, 17, 615–624)
Studies of neuropathology-cognition associations are not common and have been limited by small sample sizes, long intervals between autopsy and cognitive testing, and lack of breadth of neuropathology and cognition variables. This study examined domain-specific effects of common neuropathologies on cognition using data (N = 652) from two large cohort studies of older adults. We first identified dimensions of a battery of 17 neuropsychological tests, and regional measures of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology. We then evaluated how cognitive factors were related to dimensions of AD and additional measures of cerebrovascular and Lewy Body disease, and also examined independent effects of brain weight. All cognitive domains had multiple neuropathology determinants that differed by domain. Neocortical neurofibrillary tangles were the strongest predictors of most domains, while medial temporal tangles showed a weaker relationship with episodic memory. Neuritic plaques had relatively strong effects on multiple domains. Lewy bodies and macroscopic infarcts were associated with all domains, while microscopic infarcts had more limited associations. Brain weight was related to all domains independent of specific neuropathologies. Results show that cognition is complexly determined by multiple disease substrates. Neuropathological variables and brain weight contributed approximately a third to half of the explained variance in different cognitive domains. (JINS, 2011, 17, 602–614).
Impaired ability to conduct daily activities is a diagnostic criterion
for dementia and a determinant of healthcare services utilization and
caregiver burden. What predicts decline in instrumental activities of
daily living (IADLs) is not well understood. This study examined measures
of episodic memory, executive function, and MRI brain volumes in relation
to baseline IADLs and as predictors of rate of IADL change. Participants
were 124 elderly persons with cognitive function between normal and
moderate dementia both with and without significant small vessel
cerebrovascular disease. Random effects modeling showed that baseline
memory and executive function (EXEC) were associated with baseline IADL
scores, but only EXEC was independently associated with rate of change in
IADLs. Whereas hippocampal and cortical gray matter volumes were
significantly associated with baseline IADL scores, only hippocampal
volume was associated with IADL change. In a model including cognitive and
neuroimaging predictors, only EXEC independently predicted rate of decline
in IADL scores. These findings indicate that greater executive dysfunction
at initial assessment is associated with more rapid decline in IADLs.
Perhaps executive function is particularly important with respect to
maintaining IADLs. Alternatively, executive dysfunction may be a sentinel
event indicating widespread cortical involvement and poor prognosis.
(JINS, 2007, 13, 747–757.)
This study examined the validity of the Spanish and English
Neuropsychological Assessment Scales (SENAS) in comparison with clinical
diagnosis of normal cognition versus cognitive impairment, not
demented (CIND) versus demented in elderly Hispanics and Whites.
Relationships between SENAS scales and diagnosis were essentially the same
in Hispanics and Whites. Verbal memory measures were most strongly
related, with more than 35% of the variance in these measures accounted
for by diagnosis independent of effects of education, age, gender, and
language. Diagnosis accounted for more than 10% of the variance (19% on
average) in 11 of the 17 measures examined in this study. Logistic
regressions showed that verbal memory was important both for
distinguishing normal from CIND and CIND from demented. Object naming
improved discrimination of CIND from demented beyond that of verbal memory
alone. These results provide evidence of equivalent validity across
Hispanics and Whites. (JINS, 2005, 11,
The purpose of this study was to examine how a specific
informant-based measure of everyday functioning, the Informant
Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE; Jorm & Korten, 1988) relates to cognition and
structural neuroimaging in a large multicultural, multilingual sample
of Caucasians and Hispanics. Cognitive variables included selected
subtests from the Spanish and English Neuropsychological Assessment
Scales (SENAS; Mungas et al., 2000): Verbal
Memory, Object Naming, Verbal Attention Span, Verbal Conceptual
Thinking, and Pattern Recognition. The association between the IQCODE
and selected neuroimaging variables, hippocampal volume and white
matter hyperintensity, was evaluated in a subsample of English- and
Spanish-speaking Hispanic individuals. The cognitive variables showed
strong bivariate relationships with the IQCODE, although only Verbal
Memory and Object Naming independently predicted level of functional
ability. Verbal Memory was the strongest predictor of functional
status, accounting for 23% of the variance in the IQCODE. White matter
hyperintensity was also independently related to the IQCODE, accounting
for 18% of the variance. Hippocampal volume was related to the IQCODE
in a simple bivariate analysis, but was not an independent predictor of
reported functional status after controlling for age. The relationships
between cognitive variables and functional status, as well as between
the imaging variables and the IQCODE, did not differ across
language-ethnic groups. (JINS, 2004, 10,
A case report of neonatal onset pyridoxine-dependent seizures in a male patient with early diagnosis and treatment is presented. The patient's epilepsy was recognized and treated with pyridoxine (vitamin B6) within 8 hours of birth. Treatment has been nearly continuous since that time. This paper reports the results of a full neuropsychological evaluation at age 37 years and MRI completed at age 31 years. Consistent with other case reports in the literature, there was a significant Performance IQ (PIQ) advantage with decreased Verbal IQ (VIQ) and expressive language skills (Full-Scale IQ 71, VIQ 64, PIQ 85). MRI demonstrated characteristic thinning of the posterior corpus callosum. This report provides an example of early treatment that nonetheless results in a mild mental retardation. The similarity of the structural changes on MRI and the cognitive profile of this patient to those of others reported in the literature suggest that the underlying mechanism for both may be the same.
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