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Failure to Recover from Proactive Semantic Interference Differentiates Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and PreMCI from Normal Aging after Adjusting for Initial Learning Ability

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: Background: There is increasing evidence that the failure to recover from proactive semantic interference (frPSI) may be an early cognitive marker of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, it is unclear whether frPSI effects reflect deficiencies in an individual’s initial learning capacity versus the actual inability to learn new semantically related targets. Objective: The current study was designed to adjust for learning capacity and then to examine the extent to which frPSI, proactive semantic interference (PSI) and retroactive semantic interference (RSI) effects could differentiate between older adults who were cognitively normal (CN), and those diagnosed with either Pre-Mild Cognitive Impairment (PreMCI) or amnestic MCI (aMCI). Methods: We employed the LASSI-L cognitive stress test to examine frPSI, PSI and RSI effects while simultaneously controlling for the participant’s initial learning capacity among 50 CN, 35 aMCI, and 16 PreMCI participants who received an extensive diagnostic work-up. Results: aMCI and PreMCI participants showed greater frPSI deficits (50 and 43.8 respectively) compared to only 14 of CNparticipants. PSI effects were observed for aMCI but not PreMCI participants relative to their CN counterparts. RSI failed to differentiate between any of the study groups. Conclusion: By using participants as their own controls and adjusting for overall learning and memory, it is clear that frPSI deficits occur with much greater frequency in individuals at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and likely reflect a failure of brain compensatory mechanisms.

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