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Short- and long-term memory performance as a function of apolipoprotein-E (APOE) genotype was examined in older, healthy individuals using sensitive and comparable tasks to provide a more detailed description of influences of the ε4 allele (highest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease) on memory. Older heterozygous and homozygous ε4 carriers and noncarriers performed 2 tasks of memory. Both tasks allowed us to measure memory for item identity and locations, using a sensitive, continuous measure of report. Long-term memory for object locations was impaired in ε4/ε4 carriers, whereas, paradoxically, this group demonstrated superior short-term memory for locations. The dissociable effects of the gene on short- and long-term memory suggest that the effect of genotype on these two types of memories, and their neural underpinnings, might not be co-extensive. Whereas the long-term memory impairment might be linked to preclinical Alzheimer's disease, the short-term memory advantage may reflect an independent, phenotypical effect of this allele on cognition.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Aging

Publication Date





115 - 122


Alzheimer's disease, Apolipoprotein-E, Long-term memory, Short-term memory