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Gwenith G. Fisher, Brenda L. Plassman, Steven G. Heeringa & Kenneth M. Langa

In: Handbook of Cognitive Aging: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Chapter 21: Assessing the Relationship of Cognitive Aging and Processes of Dementia

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Assessing the Relationship of Cognitive Aging and Processes of Dementia
Assessing the relationship of cognitive aging and processes of dementia

Distinguishing between cognitive changes present in healthy aging and those related to a neuropathological process in late life has challenged researchers for some time. These “normal” and pathological aging processes typically have been viewed as two distinct pathways toward different endpoints. On the basis of this fundamental perspective, many cognitive aging studies have sought to exclude individuals with dementia. However, in this chapter we present several lines of evidence suggesting it is not realistic to expect to be able to segregate these two groups. For example, Alzheimer's disease (AD) and likely other subtypes of dementia have a protracted period in which the individual is asymptomatic or ...

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