There is wide acceptance that vascular risk factors are the most important modifiable risk factors for AD as well as vascular dementia. This project is designed to add to our understanding of how vascular factors may be associated with very early changes in cognition. Recent work suggests that vascular pathology is associated with decrements in processing resource abilities, whereas losses in hippocampal and cortical grey matter indices are associated with memory declines. Project 1 will combine the extensive psychometric data obtained over 9-15 years from 125 volunteers who are participants in the Long Beach Longitudinal Study (LBLS), R01 AG10569, with vascular and brain structure measures collected at two time points three years apart. Project 1 tests hypotheses that these measures are differentially related to the development of longitudinal declines in memory and other psychometric abilities that represent processing resources, such as working memory. To do this, we will assess the role of demographic predictors, genetic status, vascular risk (blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, hemoglobin Ale, total cholesterol and HDL), arteriosclerosis (Carotid IMT and indices from retinal AV photography) and MRI indices of vascular brain injury (white matter volume, WMH, infarcts), hippocampal (HC) loss (regional HC volumes), and brain structure (total cortical grey matter) on LBLS longitudinal outcomes of memory: list and text recall;and the processing resources of reasoning (fluid intelligence), speed, working memory, and letter fluency. A three-year follow-up will determine whether additional longitudinal changes covary.
Participants in this long term study may have experienced subtle changes in memory and cognitive resources associated with early pathological indices. Results will inform theories of normal aging as well as models of the adverse effects of vascular changes in initial development of cognitive impairment. Results may suggest that reducing vascular risk may be key to reducing cognitive decline in older adults.
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