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J Alzheimers Dis. 2019 Feb 11. doi: 10.3233/JAD-180571. [Epub ahead of print]

Modifiable Risk Factors Discriminate Memory Trajectories in Non-Demented Aging: Precision Factors and Targets for Promoting Healthier Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia?

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Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.



Non-demented cognitive aging trajectories are characterized by vast level and slope differences and a spectrum of outcomes, including dementia.


The goal of AD risk management (and its corollary, promoting healthy brain aging) is aided by two converging objectives: 1) classifying dynamic distributions of non-demented cognitive trajectories, and 2) identifying modifiable risk-elevating and risk-reducing factors that discriminate stable or normal trajectory patterns from declining or pre-impairment patterns.


Using latent class growth analysis we classified three episodic memory aging trajectories for n = 882 older adults (baseline Mage=71.6, SD=8.9, range = 53-95, female=66%): Stable (SMA; above average level, sustained slope), Normal (NMA; average level, moderately declining slope), and Declining (DMA; below average level, substantially declining slope). Using random forest analyses, we simultaneously assessed 17 risk/protective factors from non-modifiable demographic, functional, psychological, and lifestyle domains. Within two age strata (Young-Old, Old-Old), three pairwise prediction analyses identified important discriminating factors.


Prediction analyses revealed that different modifiable risk predictors, both shared and unique across age strata, discriminated SMA (i.e., education, depressive symptoms, living status, body mass index, heart rate, social activity) and DMA (i.e., lifestyle activities [cognitive, self-maintenance, social], grip strength, heart rate, gait) groups.


Memory trajectory analyses produced empirical classes varying in level and slope. Prediction analyses revealed different predictors of SMA and DMA that also varied by age strata. Precision approaches for promoting healthier memory aging-and delaying memory impairment-may identify modifiable factors that constitute specific targets for intervention in the differential context of age and non-demented trajectory patterns.


Biomarkers; Victoria Longitudinal Study; dementia prevention; memory trajectories; protective factors; risk factors


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