Recent research suggests that the retrieval of autobiographical memories among cognitively healthy middle-aged and older adults is sensitive to the Apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE4) allele, a genetic marker that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia. However, whether the APOE4-associated alteration in autobiographical memory retrieval encompasses rapid (i.e. direct retrieval) or iterative (i.e. generative retrieval) processes remains unclear. In the present study, 39 APOE4 carriers and 45 non-carriers (ages 60–80) who scored within normal limits on neuropsychological testing were cued to generate specific autobiographical events. We examined group differences in direct and generative retrieval and correlated direct and generative retrieval rates with performance on neuropsychological tests. Direct retrieval rates were lower in the APOE4 carriers compared to non-carriers. Episodic memory positively correlated with direct retrieval rates across the sample, though this relationship became non-significant when factoring in age and sex. There were no significant findings related to successful generative retrieval rates and its efficiency. In summary, compared to non-carriers, cognitively unimpaired middle-aged to older adult APOE4 carriers demonstrated greater difficulty, rapidly reconstructing specific autobiographical events without the support of semantic memory, suggesting that early autobiographical memory retrieval processes demonstrate vulnerability to AD-related risk factors.

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This post is Copyright: Aubrey A. W. Knoff,
Bailey Bowles,
Jessica R. Andrews‐Hanna,
Matthew D. Grilli | July 1, 2024
Wiley: Journal of Neuropsychology: Table of Contents