Early Detection of Amyloid-Related Changes in Memory among Cognitively Unimpaired Older Adults with Daily Digital Testing

Kathryn V. Papp, Roos J. Jutten, Daniel Soberanes, Emma Weizenbaum, Stephanie Hsieh, Cassidy Molinare, Rachel Buckley, Rebecca A. Betensky, Gad A. Marshall, Keith A. Johnson, Dorene M. Rentz, Reisa Sperling, Rebecca E. Amariglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine whether assessing learning over days reveals Alzheimer disease (AD) biomarker-related declines in memory consolidation that are otherwise undetectable with single time point assessments. Methods: Thirty-six (21.9%) cognitively unimpaired older adults (aged 60–91 years) were classified with elevated β-amyloid (Aβ+) and 128 (78%) were Aβ− using positron emission tomography with 11CPittsburgh compound B. Participants completed the multiday Boston Remote Assessment for Neurocognitive Health (BRANCH) for 12 min/day on personal devices (ie, smartphones, laptops), which captures the trajectory of daily learning of the same content on 3 repeated tests (Digit Signs, Groceries-Prices, Face-Name). Learning is computed as a composite of accuracy across all 3 measures. Participants also completed standard in-clinic cognitive tests as part of the Preclinical Alzheimer's Cognitive Composite (PACC-5), with 123 participants undergoing PACC-5 follow-up after 1.07 (standard deviation = 0.25) years. Results: At the cross-section, there were no statistically significant differences in performance between Aβ+/− participants on any standard in-clinic cognitive tests (eg, PACC-5) or on day 1 of multiday BRANCH. Aβ+ participants exhibited diminished 7-day learning curves on multiday BRANCH after 4 days of testing relative to Aβ− participants (Cohen d = 0.49, 95% confidence interval = 0.10–0.87). Diminished learning curves were associated with greater annual PACC-5 decline (r = 0.54, p < 0.001). Interpretation: Very early Aβ-related memory declines can be revealed by assessing learning over days, suggesting that failures in memory consolidation predate other conventional amnestic deficits in AD. Repeated digital memory assessments, increasingly feasible and uniquely able to assess memory consolidation over short time periods, have the potential to be transformative for detecting the earliest cognitive changes in preclinical AD. ANN NEUROL 2024;95:507–517.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-517
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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