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Computerized Cognitive Tests Are Associated with Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease in Cognitively Normal Individuals 10 Years Prior

  • Anja Soldan (a1), Corinne Pettigrew (a1), Abhay Moghekar (a1), Marilyn Albert (a1) and the BIOCARD Research Team...


Objectives: Evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers become abnormal many years before the emergence of clinical symptoms of AD, raising the possibility that biomarker levels measured in cognitively normal individuals would be associated with cognitive performance many years later. This study examined whether performance on computerized cognitive tests is associated with levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of amyloid, tau, and phosphorylated tau (p-tau) obtained approximately 10 years earlier, when individuals were cognitively normal and primarily middle-aged. Methods: Individuals from the BIOCARD cohort (mean age at testing=69 years) were tested on two computerized tasks hypothesized to rely on brain regions affected by the early accumulation of AD pathology: (1) a Paired Associates Learning (PAL) task (n=67) and (2) a visual search task (n=86). Results: In regression analyses, poorer performance on the PAL task was associated with higher levels of CSF p-tau obtained years earlier, whereas worse performance in the visual search task was associated with lower levels of CSF Aβ1-42. Conclusions: These findings suggest that AD biomarker levels may be differentially predictive of specific cognitive functions many years later. In line with the pattern of early accumulation of AD pathology, the PAL task, hypothesized to rely on medial temporal lobe function, was associated with CSF p-tau, whereas the visual search task, hypothesized to rely on frontoparietal function, was associated with CSF amyloid. Studies using amyloid and tau PET imaging will be useful in examining these hypothesized relationships further. (JINS, 2016, 22, 968–977)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Anja Soldan, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, 1620 McElderry Street, Reed Hall 1-West, Baltimore, MD 21205. E-mail:


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