Language and Memory Functioning in Cognitively Healthy Older Adults With Abnormal Beta-Amyloid/Tau Levels in Cerebrospinal Fluid

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One in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which has become a worldwide pandemic. Currently, there is no cure for AD and effective treatments are most effective in the early stages of the disease; therefore, both scientific research and clinical practice are focusing on early identification and prevention of AD. Biomarkers of AD pathology include abnormal beta-amyloid/tau levels (ßAT) in cerebrospinal fluid. Such biomarkers are helpful in distinguishing those with AD from cognitively healthy (CH) controls. In this study, we explored the relationship between AD pathology (ßAT) and learning/memory performance in cognitively healthy older adults. We proposed that CH people with abnormal pathology would have significantly reduced language and/or memory compared with CH people with normal pathology. We utilized an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to examine group differences. Select language and memory tests from the comprehensive battery were analyzed in this study and data from 59 participants classified as either CH-NAT or CH-PAT was examined. The results suggest that the CH-PAT group had a reduced language composite score compared to the CH-NAT group, though this was not significant. Additionally, the immediate memory composite score was reduced in the CH-PAT group compared to the CH-NAT group though, again, this was not significant. We conclude from this preliminary study that learning and memory, whose dysfunctions are clearly prominent in the clinical stages of AD, are not as clearly detectable in the preclinical stage as is decrease in executive function.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Marion, Sarah DeBoard

Document Type





Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid beta-protein, Older people, Memory, Language




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