Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Introduction: Intraindividual variability (IIV) in motor performance has been shown to predict future cognitive decline. The apolipoprotein E-epsilon 4 (APOE-ε4) allele is also a well-established risk factor for memory decline. Here, we present novel findings examining the influence of the APOE-ε4 allele on the performance of asymptomatic healthy elders in comparison to individuals with amnestic MCI (aMCI) on a fine motor synchronization, paced finger-tapping task (PFTT).
Method: Two Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk groups, individuals with aMCI (n = 24) and cognitively intact APOE-ε4 carriers (n = 41), and a control group consisting of cognitively intact APOE-ε4 noncarriers (n = 65) completed the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test and the PFTT, which requires index finger tapping in synchrony with a visual stimulus (interstimulus interval = 333 ms).
Results: Motor timing IIV, as reflected by the standard deviation of the intertap interval (ITI), was greater in the aMCI group than in the two groups of cognitively intact elders; in contrast, all three groups had statistically equivalent mean ITI. No significant IIV differences were observed between the asymptomatic APOE-ε4 carriers and noncarriers. Poorer episodic memory performance was associated with greater IIV, particularly in the aMCI group.
Conclusions: Results suggest that increased IIV on a fine motor synchronization task is apparent in aMCI. This IIV measure was not sensitive in discriminating older asymptomatic individuals at genetic risk for AD from those without such a genetic risk. In contrast, episodic memory performance, a well-established predictor of cognitive decline in preclinical AD, was able to distinguish between the two cognitively intact groups based on genetic risk.