80| Cognitive Reserve – A Conversation With Dr. Yaakov Stern

This episode is a conversation about cognitive reserve, which is a heuristic that helps explain variation across people in their ability to withstand neuropathology.  We discuss terminology, including defining and differentiating cognitive reserve, brain reserve, brain maintenance and resilience.  We also cover sociobehavioral proxies for cognitive reserve, functional neuroimaging, clinical applications, and more.

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

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Topics Covered

  • Definitions of cognitive reserve, brain reserve, brain maintenance, and brain resilience
  • Relationship of brain reserve to cognitive reserve
  • Sociobehavioral proxies for cognitive reserve
  • Functional neuroimaging approaches to identifying mechanisms underlying cognitive reserve
  • Clinical applications of cognitive reserve research

About Yaakov

Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., is the Florence Irving Professor of Neuropsychology in the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Psychology, and the Taub Institute for the Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain. Dr. Stern is chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division in the Department of Neurology.

Dr. Stern’s research focuses on cognition in normal aging and in diseases of aging, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. A strong theme in his research is exploring individual differences in task performance in general and, more specifically, the reason why some individuals show more cognitive deficit than others in the face of brain insult. This has led to the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which provides rationale for intervening to improve cognitive aging. He directs the Reference Ability Neural Network study, a large-scale longitudinal study designed to isolate brain activation and morphological features associated with specific cognitive abilities. He has directed several clinical trials and is currently also involved in several additional, ongoing studies of cognition in normal aging, studies of the heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease and epidemiologic studies of aging, Alzheimer’s disease incidence and progression His research approach includes classic neuropsychological and cognitive experimental techniques with a strong focus on functional imaging. He has published over 600 peer-reviewed papers, numerous chapters, and edited a book on cognitive reserve.

Selected Resources



Selected References

Bartrés‐Faz, D., Arenaza‐Urquijo, E., Ewers, M., Belleville, S., Chételat, G., Franzmeier, N., … & Vemuri, P. (2020). Theoretical frameworks and approaches used within the Reserve, Resilience and Protective Factors professional interest area of the Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, 12(1), e12115. https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12115

Boyle, R., Knight, S. P., De Looze, C., Carey, D., Scarlett, S., Stern, Y., … & Whelan, R. (2021). Verbal intelligence, not level of education, robustly assesses cognitive reserve. ResearchSquare. DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-216364/v2

Gazes, Y., Lee, S., Fang, Z., Mensing, A., Noofoory, D., Nazario, G. H., … & Stern, Y. (2021). IQ moderation of cognitive decline supports cognitive reserve and not brain maintenance. medRxivhttps://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.19.21251920

Habeck, C., Razlighi, Q., Gazes, Y., Barulli, D., Steffener, J., & Stern, Y. (2017). Cognitive reserve and brain maintenance: Orthogonal concepts in theory and practice. Cerebral Cortex, 27(8), 3962-3969.

Herrero, P., Contador, I., Stern, Y., Fernández-Calvo, B., Sánchez, A., & Ramos, F. (2020). Influence of cognitive reserve in schizophrenia: A systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 108, 149-159.

Katzman, R., Aronson, M., Fuld, P., Kawas, C., Brown, T., Morgenstern, H., … & Ooi, W. L. (1989). Development of dementing illnesses in an 80‐year‐old volunteer cohort. Annals of Neurology: Official Journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society, 25(4), 317-324.

McQuail, J. A., Dunn, A. R., Stern, Y., Barnes, C. A., Kempermann, G., Rapp, P. R., … & Foster, T. C. (2021). Cognitive reserve in model systems for mechanistic discovery: The importance of longitudinal studies. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 12, 532. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2020.607685

O’Shea, D. M., Fieo, R. A., Hamilton, J. L., Zahodne, L. B., Manly, J. J., & Stern, Y. (2015). Examining the association between late‐life depressive symptoms, cognitive function, and brain volumes in the context of cognitive reserve. International journal of geriatric psychiatry, 30(6), 614-622.

Perneczky, R., Kempermann, G., Korczyn, A. D., Matthews, F. E., Ikram, M. A., Scarmeas, N., … & Ewers, M. (2019). Translational research on reserve against neurodegenerative disease: consensus report of the International Conference on Cognitive Reserve in the Dementias and the Alzheimer’s Association Reserve, Resilience and Protective Factors Professional Interest Area working groups. BMC medicine, 17(1), 1-15.

Stern, Y. (2006). Cognitive reserve and Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, 20, S69-S74.

Stern, Y. (2009). Cognitive reserve. Neuropsychologia, 47(10), 2015-2028.

Stern, Y. (2012). Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. The Lancet Neurology, 11(11), 1006-1012.

Stern, Y., Arenaza‐Urquijo, E. M., Bartrés‐Faz, D., Belleville, S., Cantilon, M., Chetelat, G., … & Reserve, Resilience and Protective Factors PIA Empirical Definitions and Conceptual Frameworks Workgroup. (2020). Whitepaper: Defining and investigating cognitive reserve, brain reserve, and brain maintenance. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 16(9), 1305-1311.

Stern, Y., Gazes, Y., Razlighi, Q., Steffener, J., & Habeck, C. (2018). A task-invariant cognitive reserve network. Neuroimage, 178, 36-45.

Stern, Y., Varangis, E., & Habeck, C. (2021). A framework for identification of a resting-bold connectome associated with cognitive reserve. NeuroImage, 232, 117875. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117875

van Loenhoud, A. C., Habeck, C., van der Flier, W. M., Ossenkoppele, R., & Stern, Y. (2020). Identifying a task-invariant cognitive reserve network using task potency. NeuroImage, 210, 116593. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116593

Zahodne, L. B., Stern, Y., & Manly, J. J. (2015). Differing effects of education on cognitive decline in diverse elders with low versus high educational attainment. Neuropsychology, 29(4), 649-657.