Objective: Early biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are needed for developing therapeutic interventions. Measures of attentional control in Stroop-type tasks discriminate healthy aging from early stage AD and predict future development of AD in cognitively normal individuals. Disruption in resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) has been reported in AD and in healthy controls at risk for AD. We explored the relationship among Stroop performance, rs-fcMRI, and CSF Aβ₄₂ levels in cognitively normal older adults.
Method: A computerized Stroop task (along with standard neuropsychological measures), rs-fcMRI, and CSF were obtained in 237 cognitively normal older adults. We compared the relationship between Stroop performance, including measures from reaction distributional analyses, and composite scores from four resting state networks (RSNs; default mode [DMN], salience [SAL], dorsal attention [DAN], and sensory-motor [SMN]), and the modulatory influence of CSF Aβ₄₂ levels.
Results: A larger Stroop effect in errors was associated with reduced rs-fcMRI within the DMN and SAL. Reaction time (RT) distributional analyses indicated the slow tail of the RT distribution was related to reduced rs-fcMRI functional connectivity within the SAL. Standard psychometric measures were not related to RSN composite scores. A relationship between Stroop performance and DMN (but not SAL) functional connectivity was stronger in CSF Aβ₄₂-positive individuals.
Conclusions: A link exists between RSN composite scores and specific attentional performance measures. Both measures may be sensitive biomarkers for AD.