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Background: Practice effects (PEs) are improvements in performance after repeated exposure to test materials, and typically viewed as a source of bias in repeated cogni- tive assessments. We aimed to determine whether characterizing PEs could also pro- vide a useful marker of early cognitive decline.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature, searching PsycInfo (Ebsco) and PubMed databases for articles studying PEs in aging and dementia pop- ulations. Articles published between 1920 and 2019 were included.

Result: We identified 259 articles, of which 27 studied PEs as markers of cognitive performance. These studies consistently showed that smaller, less-robust PEs were associated with current diagnostic status and/or future cognitive decline. In addition, lower PEs were associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk factors and neurodegenera- tion biomarkers.

Conclusion: PEs provide a potentially useful marker of cognitive decline, and could prove valuable as part of a cost-effective strategy to select individuals who are at-risk for dementia for future interventions.


This work was originally published in Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, available at DOI: 10.1002/dad2.12055

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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