Research Abstract

Andel, R., Gatz, M., Pedersen, N. L., Reynolds, C. A., Johansson, B., & Berg, S. (2001). Deficits in controlled processing may predict dementia: A twin study. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 56B, 347-355.

This study tested for differential patterns of cognitive decline in 33 twin pairs for which both were nondemented, but 1 member of the pair went on to develop dementia. Compared with their nondemented twin partners, twins who later developed dementia already showed poorer performance on tests of memory and attention, visuospatial-reasoning skills, and perceptual speed and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). The authors suggest that this cluster of tests reflects deficits in controlled rather than automatic cognitive proceses. Nondemented twin partners of the twins who became demented were also compared with 33 matched controls selected from pairs in which both members remained nondemented. Nondemented twin partners scored lower than matched controls on tests of verbal ability, memory and attention, and perceptual speed and the MMSE. This finding indicates that nondemented twin partners of demented twins are at elevated risk themselves for becoming demented, and further suggests that certain areas of cognition are compromised prior to diagnosis of dementia.