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Children with gene show reduced cognitive function
Date:11/5/2007

o less well" on cognitive tests.

In their study on children, Raber and colleagues - lead author Summer Acevedo, Ph.D., OHSU postdoctoral fellow, and Byung Park, Ph.D., senior biostatistics associate in the OHSU Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Shared Resource - examined 55 healthy boys and girls ages 7 to 10. Among them were eight girls and six boys who carried the apoE4 gene, and 17 girls and 24 boys who didn't.

The children were assessed using a combination of paper- and computer-based tests, including a 3-dimensional, virtual reality program called "Memory Island" that assesses spatial learning and memory. "Memory Island" immerses participants in a simulated world in which they must navigate to a location marked with a flag that's adjacent to the target in each of four quadrants. The participants are given several tries to navigate back to the targets based on memory.

The computer program mimics the Morris water maze, a standard scientific tool for testing memory in rodents by training them to swim to a platform based on visual cues.

Raber, Acevedo and Park found that apoE4 carriers scored lower in location recognition tests, and non-apoE4 carriers outperformed apoE4 carriers in the "Memory Island" test by navigating closer to the visible target location. Also, non-apoE4 carriers showed spatial memory retention when a target wasn't present and searched more frequently for the targets in the appropriate quadrants while apoE4 carriers did not.

In all, 75.6 percent non-apoE4 carriers showed target preference compared with only 43 percent of apoE4 carriers.


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Contact: Jonathan Modie
modiej@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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