In the present study, we investigated which cognitive functions in older adults at Time A are predictive of conversion to dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) at Time B. Forty-seven healthy individuals were initially tested in 1992-1994 on a trial-by-trial computerized Stroop task along with a battery of psychometric measures that tap general knowledge, declarative memory, visual-spatial processing, and processing speed. Twelve of these individuals subsequently developed DAT. The errors on the color incongruent trials (along with the difference between congruent and incongruent trials) and changes in the reaction time distributions were the strongest predictors of conversion to DAT, consistent with recent arguments regarding the sensitivity of these measures. Notably in the psychometric measures, there was little evidence of a difference in declarative memory between converters and nonconverters, but there was some evidence of changes in visual-spatial processing. Discussion focuses on the accumulating evidence suggesting a role of attentional control mechanisms as an early marker for the transition from healthy cognitive aging to DAT.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Attentional control