They recruited healthy and cognitively frail adults from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience study. Researchers measured participants’ cognition with a battery of tests, their brain structure with MRI, and their brain activity with EEG and MEG.
Cognitively frail adults performed like adults with MCI on the cognitive tests both worse than controls. But their brain structure and activity resembled those of the healthy controls: the atrophy in regions like the hippocampus typical in adults in AD did not appear in cognitively frail adults.
Impaired cognition can be part of the range of normal aging and is not always an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive frailty may instead hinge on lifestyle factors many of which are reversible and modifiable like physical activity, stress, education, and cardiovascular health.