Cognitive Reserve and Brain Maintenance: Orthogonal Concepts in Theory and Practice

Habeck, Christian G.; Razlighi, Qolamreza R.; Gazes, Yunglin; Barulli, Daniel James; Steffener, Jason; Stern, Yaakov

Cognitive Reserve and Brain Maintenance have traditionally been understood as complementary concepts: Brain Maintenance captures the processes underlying the structural preservation of the brain with age, and might be assessed relative to age-matched peers. Cognitive Reserve, on the other hand, refers to how cognitive processing can be performed regardless of how well brain structure has been maintained. Thus, Brain Maintenance concerns the "hardware," whereas Cognitive Reserve concerns "software," that is, brain functioning explained by factors beyond mere brain structure. We used structural brain data from 368 community-dwelling adults, age 20-80, to derive measures of Brain Maintenance and Cognitive Reserve. We found that Brain Maintenance and Cognitive were uncorrelated such that values on one measure did not imply anything about the other measure. Further, both measures were positively correlated with verbal intelligence and education, hinting at formative influences of the latter to both measures. We performed extensive split-half simulations to check our derived measures' statistical robustness. Our approach enables the out-of-sample quantification of Brain Maintenance and Cognitive Reserve for single subjects on the basis of chronological age, neuropsychological performance and structural brain measures. Future work will investigate the prognostic power of these measures with regard to future cognitive status.


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Cerebral Cortex

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February 22, 2018