Materials and Methods: 502 cognitively unimpaired participants aged 60-85 years were assessed with RBANS in both screening and baseline clinic visits using alternate versions (median time gap of 3.5 months). We tested PE based on differences between test and retest scores in total scale and domain-specific indices. Multiple linear regressions were used to examine factors influencing PE, after adjusting for age, sex, education level, APOE-ε4 carriage and initial RBANS score. The latter and PE were also evaluated as predictors for amyloid positivity status based on defined thresholds, using logistic regression.
Results: Participants’ total scale, immediate memory and delayed memory indices were significantly higher in the second test than in the initial test (Cohen’s dz = 0.48, 0.70 and 0.35, P < 0.001). On the immediate memory index, the PE was significantly lower in the amyloid positive group than the amyloid negative group (P = 0.022). Older participants (≥70 years), women, non-APOE-ε4 carriers, and those with worse initial RBANS test performance had larger PE. No associations were found between brain MRI parameters and PE. In addition, attenuated practice effects in immediate or delayed memory index were independent predictors for amyloid positivity (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Significant practice effects on RBANS total scale and memory indices were identified in cognitively unimpaired older adults. The association with amyloid status suggests that practice effects are not simply a source of measurement error but may be informative with regard to underlying neuropathology.