Examining the association between late-life depressive symptoms, cognitive function, and brain volumes in the context of cognitive reserve

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Abstract

Objective:

The present study aimed to investigate whether cognitive reserve moderated the association between depressive symptoms and cognition, as well as brain volumes in a sample of older adults.

Methods:

Non-demented participants (n = 3484) were selected from the Washington Heights/Hamilton Heights Inwood Columbia Aging Project (Northern Manhattan). A subsample of these participants without dementia (n = 703), who had brain imaging data, was also selected for a separate analysis. Depressive symptomatology was assessed with the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Reading level and years of education were used as measures of cognitive reserve. Four distinct cognitive composite scores were calculated: executive function, memory, visual–spatial, and language.

Results:

Multiple regression analysis revealed interaction effects between both measures of cognitive reserve and depressive symptoms on all the cognitive outcome measures except for visual–spatial ability. Those with greater reserve showed greater cognitive decrements than those with lower levels of reserve as depressive symptoms increased. A borderline interaction effect was revealed between reading level and depressive symptoms on total brain volumes. Those with lower reading scores showed greater volume loss as depressive symptoms increased than those with higher reading scores.

Conclusions:

Our findings indicate that the association between late-life depressive symptoms and core aspects of cognition varies depending on one's level of cognitive reserve. Those that had greater levels of education and/or reading ability showed a greater decrease in memory, executive, and language performances as depressive symptoms increased than those with lower years of education and reading ability. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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