Format of Original
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The apolipoproteinE epsilon4 (APOE-?4) allele is associated with cognitive decline in old age and is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Physical activity (P A) is associated with a reduced risk of incident cognitive impairment, particularly among APOE-?4 carriers. We recently reported greater semantic memory related brain activation in cognitively intact physically active (High P A) APOE-?4 carriers compared to physically inactive (Low PA) ?4 carriers and non-carriers (Smith et al., 2011). Here, we compared longitudinal changes in semantic memory-related brain activation in High PA and Low PA APOE-?4 carriers. Thirty-two older ?4 carriers completed neuropsychological testing and a fMRI semantic memory task (famous name discrimination) at baseline and after 18 months. All participants were cognitively intact at baseline and were classified as High PA (n = 16) or Low PA (n = 16) based on self-report. After 18 months, 5 of 16 High P A and 13 of 16 Low P A were classified as cognitively declining by at least 1 SD decrease in neurocognitive performance (Group difference, p = .011, Fisher's exact test). A fROI analysis of the fMRI data and repeated measures ANOV As revealed significant Group by Time interactions for intensity of semantic memory-related activation. Significantly greater activation at baseline in the High PA group was attenuated over time (no change in Low P A) and resulted in no group differences at the 18-month follow-up. These findings suggest that greater P A at baseline is associated with greater cognitive stability over 18-months in APOE-?4 carriers and reduced neural activation during fame discrimination.