Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

Objective: The rate of cognitive decline is not equivalent for all AD patients, as some are able to remain functionally independent longer than others despite similar levels of neuropathology. Cognitive reserve theory (CR) posits that some people maintain cognitive functioning due to the presence of protective factors, such as educational and occupational attainment. The present study sought to investigate relations between cognitive functioning and education within an AD sample. Additionally, the current study examined if the impact of education was influenced by participant age and sex, as previous research has noted higher rates of AD in women than men.

Participants and Methods: 251 AD patients (Male = 102, Female = 149; M age = 76.68, SD = 8.11) completed the Wechsler Memory Scale-IV, Trail Making A and B, and Animal Fluency tests. Individual univariate ANOVAs using a Bonferroni adjustment (p = .007) were conducted to examine whether neuropsychological test performance was related to education, age, and sex, and their interactions.

Results: No statistically significant results were found between level of education and delayed memory (p = .63), executive functioning (p = .06), or verbal fluency (p = .06). Analyses revealed a statistically significant performance difference on the Animal Fluency test between men (M = 11.30, SD = 5.00) and women (M = 9.56, SD = 4.13; F = 9.06, ๐œ‚2 = 0.04, p = .003). As anticipated, analyses revealed a statistically significant difference on the Animal Fluency test as a function of age (F = 3.96, p = .004, ๐œ‚2 = .06), with participants between the ages of 70-79 having higher scores (M = 11.25, SD = 4.70, n = 107) than participants between the ages of 80-89 (M = 8.92, SD = 4.03, n = 87). Similarly, a statistically significant difference emerged between age groupsโ€™ scores on Trail Making Test B, with the 80-89 age group averaging the highest number of errors (M = 4.01, SD = 3.00, n = 81; F = 3.71, ๐œ‚2 = 0.06, p = .006). Analyses of interaction effects did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: We did not observe the classic effect of education among AD patients. This is somewhat surprising but may be related to the homogeneity of our sample, as 48.2% of participants had received some level of college education. Our finding that men outperformed women on a verbal fluency task is congruent with past literature noting men perform significantly better than women on verbal fluency tests in an AD population even when controlling for age, education, and duration of disease. This finding supports that women with AD exhibit greater cognitive impairment than men with AD. Our finding that verbal fluency impairment increased with age is consistent with past research. Nonsignificant results regarding differences in cognitive functioning stemming from educational attainment may denote the need for future research using a more diverse sample, as our sample was primarily White, educated, and from the same geographical region. No variance was found in the effects of CR indicators based on sex in our study.

Mentor Name

Craig McFarland

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Cognitive Reserve and Sex Differences in an Alzheimer's Disease Population

Objective: The rate of cognitive decline is not equivalent for all AD patients, as some are able to remain functionally independent longer than others despite similar levels of neuropathology. Cognitive reserve theory (CR) posits that some people maintain cognitive functioning due to the presence of protective factors, such as educational and occupational attainment. The present study sought to investigate relations between cognitive functioning and education within an AD sample. Additionally, the current study examined if the impact of education was influenced by participant age and sex, as previous research has noted higher rates of AD in women than men.

Participants and Methods: 251 AD patients (Male = 102, Female = 149; M age = 76.68, SD = 8.11) completed the Wechsler Memory Scale-IV, Trail Making A and B, and Animal Fluency tests. Individual univariate ANOVAs using a Bonferroni adjustment (p = .007) were conducted to examine whether neuropsychological test performance was related to education, age, and sex, and their interactions.

Results: No statistically significant results were found between level of education and delayed memory (p = .63), executive functioning (p = .06), or verbal fluency (p = .06). Analyses revealed a statistically significant performance difference on the Animal Fluency test between men (M = 11.30, SD = 5.00) and women (M = 9.56, SD = 4.13; F = 9.06, ๐œ‚2 = 0.04, p = .003). As anticipated, analyses revealed a statistically significant difference on the Animal Fluency test as a function of age (F = 3.96, p = .004, ๐œ‚2 = .06), with participants between the ages of 70-79 having higher scores (M = 11.25, SD = 4.70, n = 107) than participants between the ages of 80-89 (M = 8.92, SD = 4.03, n = 87). Similarly, a statistically significant difference emerged between age groupsโ€™ scores on Trail Making Test B, with the 80-89 age group averaging the highest number of errors (M = 4.01, SD = 3.00, n = 81; F = 3.71, ๐œ‚2 = 0.06, p = .006). Analyses of interaction effects did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: We did not observe the classic effect of education among AD patients. This is somewhat surprising but may be related to the homogeneity of our sample, as 48.2% of participants had received some level of college education. Our finding that men outperformed women on a verbal fluency task is congruent with past literature noting men perform significantly better than women on verbal fluency tests in an AD population even when controlling for age, education, and duration of disease. This finding supports that women with AD exhibit greater cognitive impairment than men with AD. Our finding that verbal fluency impairment increased with age is consistent with past research. Nonsignificant results regarding differences in cognitive functioning stemming from educational attainment may denote the need for future research using a more diverse sample, as our sample was primarily White, educated, and from the same geographical region. No variance was found in the effects of CR indicators based on sex in our study.