Relationship between Cognitive Performance and Measures of Neurodegeneration among Hispanic and White Non-Hispanic Individuals with Normal Cognition, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2018 Feb;24(2):176-187. doi: 10.1017/S1355617717000820. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the presence and severity of potential cultural and language bias in widely used cognitive and other assessment instruments, using structural MRI measures of neurodegeneration as biomarkers of disease stage and severity.

Methods: Hispanic (n=75) and White non-Hispanic (WNH) (n=90) subjects were classified as cognitively normal (CN), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and mild dementia. Performance on the culture-fair and educationally fair Fuld Object Memory Evaluation (FOME) and Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR) between Hispanics and WNHs was equivalent, in each diagnostic group. Volumetric and visually rated measures of the hippocampus entorhinal cortex, and inferior lateral ventricles (ILV) were measured on structural MRI scans for all subjects. A series of analyses of covariance, controlling for age, depression, and education, were conducted to compare the level of neurodegeneration on these MRI measures between Hispanics and WNHs in each diagnostic group.

Results: Among both Hispanics and WNH groups there was a progressive decrease in volume of the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, and an increase in volume of the ILV (indicating increasing atrophy in the regions surrounding the ILV) from CN to aMCI to mild dementia. For equivalent levels of performance on the FOME and CDR, WNHs had greater levels of neurodegeneration than did Hispanic subjects.

Conclusions: Atrophy in medial temporal regions was found to be greater among WNH than Hispanic diagnostic groups, despite the lack of statistical differences in cognitive performance between these two ethnic groups. Presumably, unmeasured factors result in better cognitive performance among WNH than Hispanics for a given level of neurodegeneration. (JINS, 2018, 24, 176-187).

Keywords: Atrophy; Biomarkers; Cognition; Dementia; Entorhinal cortex; Hippocampus; Hispanic Americans; Lateral ventricles; Mild cognitive impairment; Neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia* / ethnology
  • Amnesia* / pathology
  • Amnesia* / physiopathology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / ethnology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / physiopathology
  • Dementia* / ethnology
  • Dementia* / pathology
  • Dementia* / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Entorhinal Cortex / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hispanic or Latino* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Lateral Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Lateral Ventricles / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration* / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Degeneration* / ethnology
  • Nerve Degeneration* / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Whites* / ethnology