Cognitive decline not always a sign of Alzheimer's disease

Cognitive decline not always a sign of Alzheimer's disease
The brains of the cognitvely frail more closely resemble the brains of healthy controls than those of adults with Alzeheimer's disease or a mild cognitive impairment. Credit: Kocagoncu et al., JNeurosci 2022

At the first sign of cognitive trouble, people often worry Alzheimer's disease is forthcoming. But poor cognition can be part of the spectrum of normality in older age, according to new research published in JNeurosci.

Kocagoncu et al. compared the brains of cognitively frail adults—people with reduced cognitive function who haven't noticed memory issues—to those of adults with a mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease (AD) and healthy controls. They recruited healthy and cognitively frail adults from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience study. Researchers measured participants' cognition with a battery of tests, their with MRI, and their with EEG and MEG.

Cognitively frail adults performed like adults with MCI on the cognitive tests—both worse than controls. But their brain structure and activity resembled those of the healthy controls: the atrophy in regions like the hippocampus typical in adults in AD did not appear in cognitively frail adults. Impaired cognition can be part of the range of normal aging and is not always an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.

Cognitive frailty may instead hinge on lifestyle factors—many of which are reversible and modifiable—like , stress, education, and cardiovascular health.

More information: Neurophysiological and Brain Structural Markers of Cognitive Frailty Differ From Alzheimer's Disease, JNeurosci (2022). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0697-21.2021

Journal information: Journal of Neuroscience
Citation: Cognitive decline not always a sign of Alzheimer's disease (2022, January 10) retrieved 29 February 2024 from
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