Quantifying cognitive reserve in older adults by decomposing episodic memory variance: Replication and extension

Laura B. Zahodne, Jennifer J. Manly, Adam M. Brickman, Karen L. Siedlecki, Charles DeCarli, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Abstract The theory of cognitive reserve attempts to explain why some individuals are more resilient to age-related brain pathology. Efforts to explore reserve have been hindered by measurement difficulties. Reed et al. (2010) proposed quantifying reserve as residual variance in episodic memory performance that remains after accounting for demographic factors and brain pathology (whole brain, hippocampal, and white matter hyperintensity volumes). This residual variance represents the discrepancy between an individual's predicted and actual memory performance. The goals of the present study were to extend these methods to a larger, community-based sample and to investigate whether the residual reserve variable is explained by age, predicts longitudinal changes in language, and predicts dementia conversion independent of age. Results support this operational measure of reserve. The residual reserve variable was associated with higher reading ability, lower likelihood of meeting criteria for mild cognitive impairment, lower odds of dementia conversion independent of age, and less decline in language abilities over 3 years. Finally, the residual reserve variable moderated the negative impact of memory variance explained by brain pathology on language decline. This method has the potential to facilitate research on the mechanisms of cognitive reserve and the efficacy of interventions designed to impart reserve. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1-9)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-862
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Aging
  • Dementia
  • Keywords Cognition
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Statistical models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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