Practice Effects in Mild Cognitive Impairment Increase Reversion Rates and Delay Detection of New Impairments Journal Article uri icon



  • ObjectiveCognitive practice effects (PEs) can delay detection of progression from cognitively unimpaired to mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They also reduce diagnostic accuracy as suggested by biomarker positivity data. Even among those who decline, PEs can mask steeper declines by inflating cognitive scores. Within MCI samples, PEs may increase reversion rates and thus impede detection of further impairment. Within an MCI sample at baseline, we evaluated how PEs impact prevalence, reversion rates, and dementia progression after 1 year.MethodsWe examined 329 baseline Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative MCI participants (mean age = 73.1; SD = 7.4). We identified test-naïve participants who were demographically matched to returnees at their 1-year follow-up. Since the only major difference between groups was that one completed testing once and the other twice, comparison of scores in each group yielded PEs. PEs were subtracted from each test to yield PE-adjusted scores. Biomarkers included cerebrospinal fluid phosphorylated tau and amyloid beta. Cox proportional models predicted time until first dementia diagnosis using PE-unadjusted and PE-adjusted diagnoses.ResultsAccounting for PEs increased MCI prevalence at follow-up by 9.2% (272 vs. 249 MCI), and reduced reversion to normal by 28.8% (57 vs. 80 reverters). PEs also increased stability of single-domain MCI by 12.0% (164 vs. 147). Compared to PE-unadjusted diagnoses, use of PE-adjusted follow-up diagnoses led to a twofold increase in hazard ratios for incident dementia. We classified individuals as false reverters if they reverted to cognitively unimpaired status based on PE-unadjusted scores, but remained classified as MCI cases after accounting for PEs. When amyloid and tau positivity were examined together, 72.2% of these false reverters were positive for at least one biomarker.InterpretationEven when PEs are small, they can meaningfully change whether some individuals with MCI retain the diagnosis at a 1-year follow-up. Accounting for PEs resulted in increased MCI prevalence and altered stability/reversion rates. This improved diagnostic accuracy also increased the dementia-predicting ability of MCI diagnoses.

publication date

  • April 25, 2022

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • April 13, 2023 8:32 AM

Full Author List

  • Sanderson-Cimino M; Elman JA; Tu XM; Gross AL; Panizzon MS; Gustavson DE; Bondi MW; Edmonds EC; Eppig JS; Franz CE

author count

  • 15

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1663-4365

Additional Document Info


  • 14