Background: Identifying individuals at increased risks for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) is crucial for early intervention. Memory complaints are associated with brain abnormalities characteristic of AD in cognitively normal older people. However, the utility of memory complaints for predicting mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD onset remains controversial, likely due to the heterogeneous nature of this construct. Objective: We investigated whether prefrontal oxygenation changes measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) during an arduous cognitive task, previously shown to be associated with the AD syndrome, could differentiate memory abilities among individuals with memory complaints. Episodic memory performance was adopted as a proxy for MCI/AD risks since it has been shown to predict AD progression across stages. Methods: Thirty-six adults self-reporting memory complaints in the absence of memory impairment completed a verbal list learning test and underwent a digit n-back paradigm with an easy (0-back) and a difficult (2-back) condition. K-means clustering was applied to empirically derive memory complaint subgroups based on fNIRS-based prefrontal oxygenation changes during the effortful 2-back task. Results: Cluster analysis revealed two subgroups characterized by high (n = 12) and low (n = 24) bilateral prefrontal activation during the 2-back but not a 0-back task. The low activation group was significantly less accurate across the n-back task and recalled significantly fewer words on the verbal memory test compared to the high activation group. Conclusion: fNIRS may have the potential to differentiate verbal memory abilities in individuals with self-reported memory complaints. Copyright © 2022-IOS Press. All rights reserved.
CitationYeung, M. K., Lee, T.-L., & Chan, A. S. (2022). Prefrontal activation during effortful processing differentiates memory abilities in adults with memory complaints. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 88(1), 301-310. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220130
- Episodic memory
- Memory complaints
- Prefrontal cortex