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Measuring longitudinal cognition: Individual tests versus composites

Journal article
Authors E. M. Jonaitis
R. L. Koscik
L. R. Clark
Y. Ma
T. J. Betthauser
S. E. Berman
S. L. Allison
K. D. Mueller
B. P. Hermann
C. A. Van Hulle
B. T. Christian
B. B. Bendlin
Kaj Blennow
Henrik Zetterberg
C. M. Carlsson
S. Asthana
S. C. Johnson
Published in Alzheimer's and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring
Volume 11
Pages 74-84
ISSN 2352-8729
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 74-84
Language en
Keywords Biostatistics, Cognitive aging, Composite scores, Intraindividual variability, Longitudinal data analysis, Neuropsychological tests
Subject categories Neuroscience


Introduction: Longitudinal cohort studies of cognitive aging must confront several sources of within-person variability in scores. In this article, we compare several neuropsychological measures in terms of longitudinal error variance and relationships with biomarker-assessed brain amyloidosis (Aβ). Methods: Analyses used data from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention. We quantified within-person longitudinal variability and age-related trajectories for several global and domain-specific composites and their constituent scores. For a subset with cerebrospinal fluid or amyloid positron emission tomography measures, we examined how Aβ modified cognitive trajectories. Results: Global and theoretically derived composites exhibited lower intraindividual variability and stronger age × Aβ interactions than did empirically derived composites or raw scores from single tests. For example, the theoretical executive function outperformed other executive function scores on both metrics. Discussion: These results reinforce the need for careful selection of cognitive outcomes in study design, and support the emerging consensus favoring composites over single-test measures. © 2018 The Authors

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