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Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is a widely hypothesized biomarker of biological aging. Persons with shorter LTL may have a greater likelihood of developing dementia. We investigate whether LTL is associated with cognitive function, differently for individuals without cognitive impairment versus individuals with dementia or incipient dementia.
Enrolled subjects belong to the Long Life Family Study (LLFS), a multi-generational cohort study, where enrollment was predicated upon exceptional family longevity. Included subjects had valid cognitive and telomere data at baseline. Exclusion criteria were age ≤ 60 years, outlying LTL, and missing sociodemographic/clinical information. Analyses were performed using linear regression with generalized estimating equations, adjusting for sex, age, education, country, generation, and lymphocyte percentage.
Older age and male gender were associated with shorter LTL, and LTL was significantly longer in family members than spouse controls (p < 0.005). LTL was not associated with working or episodic memory, semantic processing, and information processing speed for 1613 cognitively unimpaired individuals as well as 597 individuals with dementia or incipient dementia (p < 0.005), who scored significantly lower on all cognitive domains (p < 0.005).
Within this unique LLFS cohort, a group of families assembled on the basis of exceptional survival, LTL is unrelated to cognitive ability for individuals with and without cognitive impairment. LTL does not change in the context of degenerative disease for these individuals who are biologically younger than the general population.
Patients with essential tremor exhibit heterogeneous cognitive functioning. Although the majority of patients fall under the broad classification of cognitively “normal,” essential tremor is associated with increased risk for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. It is possible that patterns of cognitive performance within the wide range of normal functioning have predictive utility for mild cognitive impairment or dementia. These cross-sectional analyses sought to determine whether cognitive patterns, or “clusters,” could be identified among individuals with essential tremor diagnosed as cognitively normal. We also determined whether such clusters, if identified, were associated with demographic or clinical characteristics of patients.
Elderly subjects with essential tremor (age >55 years) underwent comprehensive neuropsychological testing. Domain means (memory, executive function, attention, visuospatial abilities, and language) from 148 individuals diagnosed as cognitively normal were partitioned using k-means cluster analysis. Individuals in each cluster were compared according to cognitive functioning (domain means and test scores), demographic factors, and clinical variables.
There were three clusters. Cluster 1 (n = 64) was characterized by comparatively low memory scores (p < .001), Cluster 2 (n = 39) had relatively low attention and visuospatial scores (p < .001), and Cluster 3 (n = 45) exhibited consistently high performance across all domains. Cluster 1 had lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores and reported more prescription medication use and lower balance confidence.
Three patterns of cognitive functioning within the normal range were evident and tracked with certain clinical features. Future work will examine the extent to which such patterns predict conversion to mild cognitive impairment and/or dementia.
Essential tremor (ET) is associated with psychological difficulties, including anxiety and depression. Demoralization (feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, inability to cope), another manifestation of psychological distress, has yet to be investigated in ET. Our objectives are to (1) estimate the prevalence of demoralization in ET, (2) assess its clinical correlates, and (3) determine whether demoralization correlates with tremor severity.
We administered the Kissane Demoralization Scale (KDS-II) and several psychosocial evaluations (ie, scales assessing subjective incompetence, resilience, and depression [eg, Geriatric Depression Scale]) to 60 ET subjects. Tremor was assessed with a disability score and total tremor score. KDS-II >8 indicated demoralization.
Among 60 ET subjects (mean age = 70.2 ± 6.8 years), the prevalence of demoralization was 13.3%, 95% confidence interval = 6.9–24.2%. Although there was overlap between demoralization and depression (10% of the sample meeting criteria for both), 54% of depressed subjects were not demoralized, and 25% of demoralized subjects were not depressed. Demoralization correlated with psychological factors, but demoralized subjects did not have significantly higher total tremor scores, tremor disability scores, or years with tremor.
Demoralization has a prevalence of 13.3% in ET, similar to that in other chronic or terminal illnesses (eg, cancer 13–18%, Parkinson’s disease 18.1%, coronary heart disease 20%). Demoralization was not a function of increased tremor severity, suggesting that it is a separable construct, which could dictate how a patient copes with his/her disease. These data further our understanding of the psychological and psychosocial correlates of ET.
Objectives: The cognitive indicators of preclinical behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD) have not been identified. To investigate these indicators, we compared cross-sectional performance on a range of cognitive measures in 12 carriers of pathogenic MAPT mutations not meeting diagnostic criteria for bvFTD (i.e., preclinical) versus 32 demographically-matched familial non-carriers (n = 44). Studying preclinical carriers offers a rare glimpse into emergent disease, environmentally and genetically contextualized through comparison to familial controls. Methods: Evaluating personnel blinded to carrier status administered a standardized neuropsychological battery assessing attention, speed, executive function, language, memory, spatial ability, and social cognition. Results from mixed effect modeling were corrected for multiplicity of comparison by the false discovery rate method, and results were considered significant at p < .05. To control for potential interfamilial variation arising from enrollment of six families, family was treated as a random effect, while carrier status, age, gender, and education were treated as fixed effects. Results: Group differences were detected in 17 of 31 cognitive scores and spanned all domains except spatial ability. As hypothesized, carriers performed worse on specific measures of executive function, and social cognition, but also on measures of attention, speed, semantic processing, and memory storage and retrieval. Conclusions: Most notably, group differences arose on measures of memory storage, challenging long-standing ideas about the absence of amnestic features on neuropsychological testing in early bvFTD. Current findings provide important and clinically relevant information about specific measures that may be sensitive to early bvFTD, and advance understanding of neurocognitive changes that occur early in the disease. (JINS, 2019, 25, 184–194)
Objectives: Essential tremor (ET) confers an increased risk for developing both amnestic and non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Yet, the optimal measures for detecting mild cognitive changes in individuals with this movement disorder have not been established. We sought to identify the cognitive domains and specific motor-free neuropsychological tests that are most sensitive to mild deficits in cognition as defined by a Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0.5, which is generally associated with a clinical diagnosis of MCI. Methods: A total of 196 ET subjects enrolled in a prospective, longitudinal, clinical-pathological study underwent an extensive motor-free neuropsychological test battery and were assigned a CDR score. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the neuropsychological tests which best identified individuals with CDR of 0.5 (mild deficits in cognition) versus 0 (normal cognition). Results: In regression models, we identified five tests in the domains of Memory and Executive Function which best discriminated subjects with CDR of 0.5 versus 0 (86.9% model classification accuracy). These tests were the California Verbal Learning Test II Total Recall, Logical Memory II, Verbal-Paired Associates I, Category Switching Fluency, and Color-Word Inhibition. Conclusions: Mild cognitive difficulty among ET subjects is best predicted by combined performance on five measures of memory and executive function. These results inform the nature of cognitive dysfunction in ET and the creation of a brief cognitive battery to assess patients with ET for cognitively driven dysfunction in life that could indicate the presence of MCI. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1084–1098)
Objectives: Emerging work reveals the neuroanatomic changes that compromise metacognition; however, little is known about the impact of premorbid factors. Research suggests that psychological variables influence the perception of cognition, but whether they influence the accuracy of those perceptions (i.e., metacognition) has not been directly examined. Participants and Methods: Using Latent Class Analysis (LCA), we tested for discrete personality (NEOFFI) and mood (STAI, BDI-II, and GDS) classes among a community-based cohort of 151 older adults, enrolled in the NKI-Rockland study. Metamemory was calculated by comparing subjective memory ratings (modified Cognitive Failures Questionnaire) to objective memory (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test) to determine the degree to which individuals were overconfident, underconfident, or accurate in their self-assessment. A generalized linear model was used to examine whether metamemory differed across the emergent classes. A one sample t test was used to determine whether the metamemory scores of the emergent classes were statistically significantly different from zero, that is, over or under confident. Results: Two discrete classes emerged in the LCA: Class 1 was characterized predominantly by high extraversion and conscientiousness and low neuroticism and anxiety; Class 2 was characterized predominantly by low extraversion and conscientiousness and high neuroticism and anxiety. Metamemory differed significantly as a function of Class Membership (F(4,151)=5.42; p<.001), with Class 1 demonstrating accurate metamemory (M=0.21; SD=1.31) and Class 2 demonstrating under-confidence (M=−0.59; SD=1.39) in their memory. Conclusions: The significant association between psychological factors and metamemory knowledge accuracy suggests that such characteristics may be important to consider in the conceptualization, assessment, and treatment of metacognitive disturbances. (JINS, 2018, 24, 498–510)
Individuals with essential tremor (ET) exhibit a range of cognitive deficits generally conceptualized as “dysexecutive” or “fronto-subcortical,” and thought to reflect disrupted cortico-cerebellar networks. In light of emerging evidence that ET increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it is critical to more closely examine the nature of specific cognitive deficits in ET, with particular attention to amnestic deficits that may signal early AD.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from 128 ET cases (age 80.4±9.5 years) enrolled in a longitudinal, clinical-pathological study. Cases underwent a comprehensive battery of motor-free neuropsychological tests and a functional assessment to inform clinical diagnoses of normal cognition (ET-NC), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (ET-MCI), or dementia (ET-D). ET-MCI was subdivided into subtypes including: amnestic single-domain (a-MCI), amnestic multi-domain (a-MCI+), non-amnestic single-domain (na-MCI), or non-amnestic multi-domain (na-MCI+).
Ninety-one (71.1%) cases were ET-NC, 24 (18.8%) were ET-MCI, and 13 (10.2%) were ET-D. Within MCI, the a-MCI+ subtype was the most common (13/24; 54.2%) followed by a-MCI (4/24; 16.7%), na-MCI+ (4/24; 16.7%), and na-MCI (3/24; 12.5%). Cases with amnestic MCI demonstrated lower recognition memory Z-scores (−2.4±1.7) than non-amnestic groups (−0.9±1.2) (p=.042).
Amnestic MCI, defined by impaired memory recall but associated with lower memory storage scores, was the most frequent MCI subtype in our study. Such impairment has not been explicitly discussed in the context of ET and may be an early hallmark of AD. Results have implications for the prognosis of specific cognitive deficits in ET. (JINS, 2017, 23, 390–399)
Using cluster analysis Libon et al. (2010) found three verbal serial list-learning profiles involving delay memory test performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Amnesic MCI (aMCI) patients presented with low scores on delay free recall and recognition tests; mixed MCI (mxMCI) patients scored higher on recognition compared to delay free recall tests; and dysexecutive MCI (dMCI) patients generated relatively intact scores on both delay test conditions. The aim of the current research was to further characterize memory impairment in MCI by examining forgetting/savings, interference from a competing word list, intrusion errors/perseverations, intrusion word frequency, and recognition foils in these three statistically determined MCI groups compared to normal control (NC) participants. The aMCI patients exhibited little savings, generated more highly prototypic intrusion errors, and displayed indiscriminate responding to delayed recognition foils. The mxMCI patients exhibited higher saving scores, fewer and less prototypic intrusion errors, and selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list. dMCI patients also selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list but performed similarly compared to NC participants. These data suggest the existence of distinct memory impairments in MCI and caution against the routine use of a single memory test score to operationally define MCI. (JINS, 2011, 17, 905–914)
The ability to engage in self-reflective processes is a capacity that may be disrupted after neurological compromise; research to date has demonstrated that patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) show reduced awareness of their deficits and functional ability compared to caretaker or clinician reports. Assessment of awareness of deficit, however, has been limited by the use of subjective measures (without comparison to actual performance) that are susceptible to report bias. This study used concurrent measurements from cognitive testing and confidence judgments about performance to investigate in-the-moment metacognitive experiences after moderate and severe traumatic brain injury. Deficits in metacognitive accuracy were found in adults with TBI for some but not all indices, suggesting that metacognition may not be a unitary construct. Findings also revealed that not all indices of executive functioning reliably predict metacognitive ability. (JINS, 2011, 17, 720–731)
A critical focus of neuropsychological research is to identify
unbiased ways to compare heterogeneous groups on background variables
relevant to neuropsychological performance. Whereas recent work has
pointed to single word reading as a less culturally biased measure of
educational experience than years of education, the extent to which
reading score captures a broad range of educational experience and does so
consistently across ethnic and language groups is unknown. The current
study evaluated reading in relation to years of education in
English-speaking Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, and Spanish-speaking
Hispanic older persons (n = 342). Consistent with previous work,
reading scores at each grade level were lower in English speaking ethnic
minorities than in Whites, supporting the idea that variables related to
lifetime educational experience are often confounded with ethnicity.
Standardized reading scores were highest in the Spanish speakers; however,
interpretation of this difference is limited because scores were
necessarily derived using separate normative samples. Importantly, the
slopes of reading score by years of education were comparable across all
groups. That is, reading scores rose consistently with years of education
independently of ethnicity or language, suggesting that such scores can be
treated comparably for theoretical and statistical purposes in multiethnic
and multilingual samples. (JINS, 2007, 13,
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