News Release

Cognitive decline not always a sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Some cognitively frail adults have impaired cognition but intact brain structure and function

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Society for Neuroscience

Cognitive Decline Not Always a Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease

image: 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. view more 

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 brain structure with MRI, and their brain activity 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 physical activity, stress, education, and cardiovascular health.


Paper title: Neurophysiological and Brain Structural Markers of Cognitive Frailty Differ From Alzheimer’s Disease

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About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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