Background: Previous research has identified a small subgroup of older adults that maintain a high level of cognitive functioning well into advanced age. Investigation of those with superior cognitive performance (SCP) for their age is important, as age-related decline has previously been thought to be inevitable.
Objective: Preservation of cortical thickness and volume was evaluated in 76 older adults with SCP and 100 typical older adults (TOAs) assessed up to five times over six years.
Methods: Regions of interest (ROIs) found to have been associated with super-aging status (a construct similar to SCP status) in previous literature were investigated, followed by a discovery phase analyses of additional regions. SCPs were aged 70 + at baseline, scoring at/above normative memory (CVLT-II) levels for demographically similar individuals aged 30-44 years old, and in the unimpaired range for all other cognitive domains over the course of the study.
Results: In linear mixed models, following adjustment for multiple comparisons, there were no significant differences between rates of thinning or volume atrophy between SCPs and TOAs in previously identified ROIs, or the discovery phase analyses. With only amyloid-β negative individuals in the analyses, again there were no significant differences between SCPs and TOAs.
Conclusion: The increased methodological rigor in classifying groups, together with the influence of cognitive reserve, are discussed as potential factors accounting for our findings as compared to the extant literature on those with superior cognitive performance for their age.
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- cognitive aging
- cortical thickness
- cortical thinning
- cerebral volume atrophy
- older adult superior cognitive performance