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Biol Psychol. 2007 Jul;75(3):229-38. Epub 2007 Mar 16.

The contribution of apolipoprotein E alleles on cognitive performance and dynamic neural activity over six decades.

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  • 1Brain Resource Company and Brain Resource International Database, PO Box 737, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.


Neuroimaging shows brain-functional differences due to apolipoprotein E (APOE) polymorphisms may exist decades before the increased risk period for Alzheimer's disease, but little is known about their effect on cognition and brain function in children and young adults. This study assessed 415 healthy epsilon2 and epsilon4 carriers and matched epsilon3/epsilon3 controls, spanning ages 6-65, on a range of cognitive tests. Subjects were also compared on a new dynamical measure of EEG activity during a visual working memory task using alphabetical stimuli. epsilon4 subjects had better verbal fluency compared to epsilon3, an effect that was strongest in 51-65 year-olds. No epsilon4 deficits in cognition were found. In 6-15 year-olds, there were differences in total spatio-temporal wave activity between epsilon3 and epsilon4 subjects in the theta band, approximately 200ms post-stimulus. Differences in brain function in younger epsilon4 subjects and superior verbal fluency across the entire age range suggest that the APOE epsilon4 allele is an example of antagonistic pleiotropy.

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