Objective To study the relationship between subjective cognition and the neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition, using carbon 11–labeled Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography in normal elderly individuals.
Design Cross-sectional analysis.
Subjects Forty-eight cognitively normal elderly subjects (11 with high PiB uptake and 28 with low PiB uptake) were included. All underwent clinical and neuropsychological evaluations, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography.
Setting Berkeley Aging Cohort Study.
Main Outcome Measure Relationship between PiB uptake and subjective cognition measures.
Results Subjects with high PiB uptake showed significantly lower performance than those with low PiB uptake on an episodic memory measure and were less confident about their general memory abilities when required to evaluate themselves relative to other people of the same age. High and low PiB uptake groups did not differ on the accuracy of their cognitive self-reports compared with objective cognitive performance. General memory self-reports from the whole group were significantly correlated with regional PiB uptake in the right medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex and in the right precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex. Reduced confidence about memory abilities was associated with greater PiB uptake in these brain regions. All results were independent of demographic variables and depressive affects.
Conclusions A decrease of self-confidence about memory abilities in cognitively normal elderly subjects may be related to the neuropathological hallmark of AD measured with PiB–positron emission tomography. Subjective cognitive impairment may represent a very early clinical manifestation of AD.