Cognitive resilience in clinical and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease: the Association of Amyloid and Tau Burden on cognitive performance

Dorene M. Rentz, Elizabeth C. Mormino, Kathryn V. Papp, Rebecca A. Betensky, Reisa A. Sperling, Keith A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We explored the cross-sectional relationships between β-amyloid (Aβ) and inferior temporal tau deposition (IFT Tau) on cognitive performance and whether cognitive reserve (CR) modifies these associations. We studied 156 participants classified into groups of clinically normal (CN = 133), mild cognitive impairment (MCI = 17) and Alzheimer disease (AD = 6) dementia. AMNART IQ served as a proxy of CR and cognitive performance was assessed using the MMSE. In separate linear regression models predicting MMSE, we examined the interactions of CR x global Aβ and CR x IFT tau across all participants and within the CN group alone. In the whole sample, the interaction between CR and IFT tau was significant (p < 0.003), such that higher CR participants with elevated IFT tau had better MMSE scores compared with low CR participants with similar levels of IFT tau. The interaction between CR and Aβ status did not reach significance (p = 0.093). In CN only, no cross-sectional interactions among CR, Aβ, and IFT tau were observed on MMSE. These findings imply that CR may be protective against early AD processes and enable some individuals to remain cognitively stable despite elevated tau and Aβ burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-390
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017



  • Aging
  • Amyloid PET imaging
  • Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
  • Resilience
  • Tau PET imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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