Teen IQ, Activity Level, and AD: Mechanisms of the Links

Alan Lerner, MD University Hospitals of Cleveland

Project Details

Studies have suggested that low cognitive performance and low activity level in youth may be associated with an increased risk for dementia in adulthood. However, we know little about the mechanism(s) underlying the associations. Experiences occurring in mid- and late-life could mediate the influence of cognitive ability and activity level in youth on cognitive function in adulthood. Or, the effects of early life factors on AD could be independent of mid- and late-life experiences. In this project, Dr. Lerner will examine the relationships between teen IQ and activity level, and a genetic risk factor for AD (APOE e4), on the development of AD over time. Subjects will be 1940s graduates of the same high school who had normal cognition in 2002. Subjects will undergo two follow-up evaluations to detect transitions to dementia. IQ test scores and activity levels, gathered from sources at the school, will be used as predictor variables in statistical models. Dr. Lerner predicts that lower IQ and activity level, and the high-risk APOE gene will each increase AD risk, and that mid- and late-life factors will directly and indirectly contribute to this effect. These findings will contribute to knowledge about pathways leading to AD and may identify modifiable risk factors.