Objective: To determine whether amyloid deposition is associated with impaired neuropsychological (NP) performance and whether cognitive reserve (CR) modifies this association.
Methods: In 66 normal elderly controls and 17 patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), we related brain retention of Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) to NP performance and evaluated the impact of CR using education and American National Adult Reading Test intelligence quotient as proposed proxies.
Results: We found in the combined sample of subjects that PiB retention in the precuneus was inversely related to NP performance, especially in tests of memory function, but also in tests of working memory, semantic processing, language, and visuospatial perception. CR significantly modified the relationship, such that at progressively higher levels of CR, increased amyloid deposition was less or not at all associated with poorer neuropsychological performance. In a subsample of normal controls, both the main effect of amyloid deposition of worse memory performance and the interaction with CR were replicated using a particularly challenging memory test.
Interpretation: Amyloid deposition is associated with lower cognitive performance both in AD patients and in the normal elderly, but the association is modified by CR, suggesting that CR may be protective against amyloid-related cognitive impairment.