Cortical signatures of cognition and their relationship to Alzheimer's disease

Alden L. Gross, Jennifer J. Manly, Judy Pa, Julene K. Johnson, Lovingly Quitania Park, Meghan B. Mitchell, Rebecca J. Melrose, Sharon K. Inouye, Donald G. McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Recent changes in diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD) state that biomarkers can enhance certainty in a diagnosis of AD. In the present study, we combined cognitive function and brain morphology, a potential imaging biomarker, to predict conversion from mild cognitive impairment to AD. We identified four biomarkers, or cortical signatures of cognition (CSC), from regressions of cortical thickness on neuropsychological factors representing memory, executive function/processing speed, language, and visuospatial function among participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Neuropsychological factor scores were created from a previously validated multidimensional factor structure of the neuropsychological battery in ADNI. Mean thickness of each CSC at the baseline study visit was used to evaluate risk of conversion to clinical AD among participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and rate of decline on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) score. Of 307 MCI participants, 119 converted to AD. For all domain-specific CSC, a one standard deviation thinner cortical thickness was associated with an approximately 50 % higher hazard of conversion and an increase of approximately 0. 30 points annually on the CDR-SB. In combined models with a domain-specific CSC and neuropsychological factor score, both CSC and factor scores predicted conversion to AD and increasing clinical severity. The present study indicated that factor scores and CSCs for memory and language both significantly predicted risk of conversion to AD and accelerated deterioration in dementia severity. We conclude that predictive models are best when they utilize both neuropsychological measures and imaging biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-598
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ADNI
  • Brain mapping
  • Cognition
  • Cortical thickness
  • Freesurfer
  • MRI

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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