Date: 02 Aug 2011

Epidemiology of Cognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease: Contributions of the Cache County Utah Study of Memory, Health and Aging

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Epidemiological studies of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) provide insights into changing public health trends and their contribution to disease incidence. The current chapter considers how the population-based approach has contributed to our understanding of lifetime exposures that contribute to later disease risk and may act to modify onset of symptoms. We focus on the findings from a recent survey of an exceptionally long-lived population, the Cache County Utah Study of Memory, Health, and Aging. This study is confined to a single geographic population has allowed estimation of the genetic and environmental influences on AD expression across the expected human lifespan of 95+ years. Given the emphasis of this text on the behavioral neurosciences of aging, we highlight within the current chapter the particular contributions of this population-based study to the neuropsychology of aging and AD. We also discuss hypotheses generated from this survey with respect to factors that may either accelerate or delay symptom onset in AD and the conditions that appear to be associated with successful cognitive aging.