The link between brain amyloid-β (Aβ), metabolism, and dementia symptoms remains a pressing question in Alzheimer's disease. Here, using positron emission tomography ([18F]florbetapir tracer for Aβ and [18F]FDG tracer for glucose metabolism) with a novel analytical framework, we found that Aβ aggregation within the brain's default mode network leads to regional hypometabolism in distant but functionally connected brain regions. Moreover, we found that an interaction between this hypometabolism with overlapping Aβ aggregation is associated with subsequent cognitive decline. These results were also observed in transgenic Aβ rats that do not form neurofibrillary tangles, which support these findings as an independent mechanism of cognitive deterioration. These results suggest a model in which distant Aβ induces regional metabolic vulnerability, whereas the interaction between local Aβ with a vulnerable environment drives the clinical progression of dementia.