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Brain morphology, cognition, and β-amyloid in older adults with superior memory performance.

  • Author(s): Harrison, Theresa M
  • Maass, Anne
  • Baker, Suzanne L
  • Jagust, William J
  • et al.

The mechanisms underlying superior cognitive performance in some older adults are poorly understood. We used a multimodal approach to characterize imaging and cognitive features of 26 successful agers (SA; defined by superior episodic memory ability) and 103 typical older adults. Cortical thickness was greater in multiple regions in SA including right anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex and was related to baseline memory performance. Similarly, hippocampal volume was greater in SA and associated with baseline memory. SA also had lower white matter hypointensity volumes and faster processing speed. While PiB burden did not differ, there was a significant group interaction in the relationship between age and PiB such that older SA individuals were less likely to have high brain β-amyloid. Over time, memory performance in typical older adults declined more rapidly than in SA, although there was limited evidence for different rates of brain atrophy. These findings indicate that superior memory in aging is related to greater cortical and white matter integrity as well as slower decline in memory performance.

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