Distinct Cognitive Fates in the Very Old

While many studies have tracked the mental abilities of healthy people who test positive for Alzheimer’s biomarkers, few have examined the very old over the long term. Now, a group led by Beth Snitz at the University of Pittsburgh details how Aβ accumulation and hippocampal atrophy correlate with cognitive performance over an average of 12 years in people with an average age of 86. They report that while amyloid-positive individuals were more likely to develop deficits in many cognitive domains, those who lost only hippocampal volume tended to experience just memory loss.

The findings, published in the November 6 JAMA Neurology, dissect how different pathologies affect different cognitive abilities, and shed light on the long-term consequences of Suspected Non-Alzheimer Pathophysiology (SNAP).

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