Residual reserve index modifies the effect of amyloid pathology on fluorodeoxyglucose metabolism: Implications for efficiency and capacity in cognitive reserve

Cathryn McKenzie, Romola S Bucks, Michael Weinborn, Pierrick Bourgeat, Olivier Salvado, Brandon E Gavett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The residual approach to measuring cognitive reserve (using the residual reserve index) aims to capture cognitive resilience conferred by cognitive reserve, but may be confounded by factors representing brain resilience. We sought to distinguish between brain and cognitive resilience by comparing interactions between the residual reserve index and amyloid, tau, and neurodegeneration ["AT(N)"] biomarkers when predicting executive function. We hypothesized that the residual reserve index would moderate at least one path from an AT(N) biomarker to executive function (consistent with cognitive resilience), as opposed to moderating a path between two AT(N) biomarkers (suggestive of brain resilience).

Methods: Participants ( N = 332) were from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The residual reserve index represented the difference between observed and predicted memory performance (a positive residual reserve index suggests higher cognitive reserve). AT(N) biomarkers were: CSF β-amyloid 1-42/β-amyloid 1-40 (A), plasma phosphorylated tau-181 (T), and FDG metabolism in AD-specific regions ([N]). AT(N) biomarkers (measured at consecutive time points) were entered in a sequential mediation model testing the indirect effects from baseline amyloid to executive function intercept (third annual follow-up) and slope (baseline to seventh follow-up), via tau and/or FDG metabolism. The baseline residual reserve index was entered as a moderator of paths between AT(N) biomarkers (e.g., amyloid-tau), and paths between AT(N) biomarkers and executive function.

Results: The residual reserve index interacted with amyloid pathology when predicting FDG metabolism: the indirect effect of amyloid → FDG metabolism → executive function intercept and slope varied as a function of the residual reserve index. With lower amyloid pathology, executive function performance was comparable at different levels of the residual reserve index, but a higher residual reserve index was associated with lower FDG metabolism. With higher amyloid pathology, a higher residual reserve index predicted better executive function via higher FDG metabolism.

Conclusion: The effect of the residual reserve index on executive function performance via FDG metabolism was consistent with cognitive resilience. This suggests the residual reserve index captures variation in cognitive reserve; specifically, neural efficiency, and neural capacity to upregulate metabolism to enhance cognitive resilience in the face of greater amyloid pathology. Implications for future research include the potential bidirectionality between neural efficiency and amyloid accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number943823
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Early online date12 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022


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