Short-Term Practice Effects and Brain Hypometabolism: Preliminary Data from an FDG PET Study

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Practice effects are improvements in cognitive test scores due to repeated exposure to the same tests. Typically viewed as error, short-term practice effects have been shown to provide valuable clinical information about diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment outcomes in older patients with mild cognitive impairments. This study examined short-term practice effects across one week and brain hypometabolism on fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in 25 older adults (15 intact, 10 Mild Cognitive Impairment). Averaged cerebral brain metabolism on FDG PET was correlated with multiple cognitive scores at baseline in those with Mild Cognitive Impairment, and short-term practice effects accounted for additional variance in these same subjects. The relationship between brain metabolism and cognition (either at baseline or practice effects) was minimal in the intact individuals. Although needing replication in larger samples, short-term practice effects on tests of executive functioning and memory may provide valuable information about biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.

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