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Subjective Cognitive Impairment and the Broad Autism Phenotype

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Introduction:

Roughly 4% to 23% of the population embody stress prone personality and other traits characterizing a subclinical “broad autism phenotype” (BAP). Subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) among healthy elderly is associated with psychological distress leading us to predict BAP would be associated with SCI.

Methods:

The Autism Spectrum Quotient, a self-administered 50 item questionnaire, was completed by 419 consecutive members of the Arizona APOE Cohort who underwent neuropsychological testing every 2 years. SCI was assessed with self and informant versions of the Multidimensional Assessment of Neurodegenerative Symptoms (MANS) Questionnaire.

Results:

A total of 45 individuals scored in the BAP range, designated BAP+, and the rest were BAP−. At entry, both Multidimensional Assessment of Neurodegenerative Symptoms Questionnaire Self and Informant scores were higher in the BAP+ group (P<0.0001). After age 60, the BAP+ group had greater annual increases in Multidimensional Assessment of Neurodegenerative Symptoms Questionnaire Self scores (0.05 vs. 0.02; difference=0.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.004-0.05; P=0.02) yet there was no difference between groups in memory decline. Over ~10 years 33 individuals developed mild cognitive impairment: 4 in the BAP+ group (8.9%) and 29 in the BAP− group (7.8%), P=0.77.

Discussion:

Individuals who meet criteria for the BAP have escalating SCI with age, but no greater rate of memory decline or clinical progression to mild cognitive impairment.
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Keywords: aging; broad autism phenotype; memory loss; mild cognitive impairment; preclinical Alzheimer disease; subjective cognitive impairment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Neurology 2: Biostatistics 3: Psychology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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