The default mode network may be the key substrate of depressive symptom-related cognitive changes

Donald R. Royall, Raymond F. Palmer, Eric D. Vidoni, Robyn A. Honea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Depressive symptoms are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) but the mechanism(s) involved has not been well established. In a convenience sample of participants in the University of Kansas' Brain Aging Project, we use structural equation modeling (SEM) to explicitly distinguish depressive symptom-related variance in cognitive task performance (i.e., DEPCOG) from that which is unrelated to a depressive symptoms. DEPCOG is strongly associated with the cognitive correlates of functional status (δ), which we previously associated with elements of the Default Mode Network (DMN). Both δ and DEPCOG map to a posterior cingulate seeded network that has recently been associated with amyloid-β deposition and includes elements of the DMN. Both contribute significantly to clinical dementia status and dementia severity, as measured by the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes. These findings suggest that the cognitive correlates of depressive symptoms, even in the absence of a major depressive episode, may contribute to dementia in their own right, and could be responsible for some cases of incident clinical 'AD'. This conclusion suggests new opportunities for the latter's diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-559
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • Aging
  • cognition
  • dementia
  • depression
  • functional status
  • g

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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