Lars-Göran Nilsson


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Works at Department of Psychology
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 14
Room 14:127
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Fabio Del Missier (et al.). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 30 (1), 123-139

    Age-related differences in sensory functioning, processing speed, and working memory have been identified as three significant predictors of the age-related performance decline observed in complex cognitive tasks. Yet, the assessment of their relative predictive capacity and interrelations is still an open issue in decision making and cognitive aging research. Indeed, no previous investigation has examined the relationships of all these three predictors with decision making. In an individual-differences study, we therefore disentangled the relative contribution of sensory functioning, processing speed, and working memory to the prediction of the age-related decline in cognitively demanding judgment and decision-making tasks. Structural equation modeling showed that the age-related decline in working memory plays an important predictive role, even when controlling for sensory functioning, processing speed, and education. Implications for research on decision making and cognitive aging are discussed.

  • 2016. Diego A. Forero (et al.). Schizophrenia Research 172 (1-3), 68-74

    Identification of novel candidate genes for schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BP), two psychiatric disorders with large epidemiological impacts, is a key research area in neurosciences and psychiatric genetics. Previous evidence from genome-wide studies suggests an important role for genes involved in synaptic plasticity in the risk for SZ and BP. We used a convergent genomics approach, combining different lines of biological evidence, to identify genes involved in the cAMP/PKA/CREB functional pathway that could be novel candidates for BP and SZ: CREB1, CREM, GRIN2C, NPY2R, NF1, PPP3CB and PRKAR1A. These 7 genes were analyzed in a HapMap based association study comprising 48 common SNPs in 486 SZ, 351 BP patients and 514 control individuals recruited from an isolated population in Northern Sweden. Genetic analysis showed significant allelic associations of SNPs in PRKAR1A with SZ and of PPP3CB and PRKAR1A with BP. Our results highlight the feasibility and the importance of convergent genomic data analysis for the identification of candidate genes and our data provide support for the role of common inherited variants in synaptic genes and their involvement in the etiology of BP and SZ.

  • 2016. Andreas Stomby (et al.). European Journal of Endocrinology 175 (2), 117-126

    Objective: Elevated cortisol levels with aging have been associated with atrophy of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC), as well as with impaired cognitive functions in men. However, coexisting diseases have confounded many studies examining these relationships. Studies in women are lacking. Our objective was to test whether salivary cortisol levels were related to morphology of the hippocampus and the PFC, and to cognitive performance.

    Design: A cross-sectional study including 200 elderly (55-80 years old) men and women.

    Method: We used magnetic resonance imaging, tests of episodic-, semantic-, and working memory, visuospatial ability, and cortisol levels in four saliva samples collected during 1 day.

    Results: Area under the curve (AUC) for cortisol levels was negatively related to cortical surface area of the left anterior cingulate gyrus (caudal P < 0.001; rostral P = 0.006), right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (P = 0.004), and right rostral middle frontal gyrus (P = 0.003). In women, there was also a negative relationship with cortical surface area in the left rostral middle frontal gyrus (P = 0.006). No relationship was found between cortisol levels and hippocampal volume.

    Conclusion: This study suggests that the structure of the medial PFC is related to cortisol levels in both elderly women and men.

  • 2016. Jonas K. Olofsson (et al.). Neuropsychologia 85, 1-9

    The ɛ4 allele of the Apolipoprotein E gene is a genetic risk factor for late-onset dementia of the Alzheimers' type (DAT), which is characterized by loss of both episodic memoryand olfactory functions. Little is known about the possible role of ɛ4 in the association between ongoing episodic memory decline and olfactory deficits in the general population, but such information is relevant in determining the relevance of olfaction as a marker of DAT risk. The present study was based on a large, population-based sample (n=1087, aged 45–90 years, of which 324 were ɛ4-carriers). Episodic memory change rates were established using data collected every 5 years for a 10–20 year interval leading up to an olfactory assessment using the Scandinavian Odor Identification Test at the last wave of data collection. Participants were classified according to whether or not their episodic memory ability declined more rapidly than the age-typical norm (by >1SD). Our main result is that only in ɛ4-carriers was episodic memory decline associated with odor identification impairment. In individuals without ɛ4, odor identification was unrelated to episodic memory decline status. Follow-up analyses indicated that this moderation by ɛ4 was due to the olfactory nature of the identification test, and that the effect was not caused by 63 individuals with dementia. Our results suggest that the ɛ4 determines the functional association between ongoing episodic memory decline and olfaction. These findings are consistent with the notion that ɛ4-carriers with DAT, compared to non-carriers, display a cortical atrophy pattern that is more focused on mediotemporal lobe regions supporting olfactory and episodic memory functions. Olfactory and memory assessments might provide complementary information on mediotemporal atrophy prior to clinical dementia onset, but the ɛ4 should be considered when using olfactory assessment as an early-stage indicator.

  • 2016. Maria Larsson (et al.). 17th International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT2016), Yokohama, Japan, June 5-9, 2016. Chemical Senses, 41(9), E216

    The objective of this study was to examine the association between performance in odor identification and future mortality in a community cohort of adults aged between 40 and 90 years. We assessed olfactory performance with a 13-item-version of the Scandinavian Odor Identification Test (SOIT). The results showed that during follow-up (mean=9.4 years, standard deviation=2.23), 411 of 1774 (23.2%) participants died. In a Cox model, the association between higher SOIT score and mortality was highly significant (hazard ratio [HR]=0.74, per point interval, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.71–0.77, p<0.001). The effect was attenuated, but remained significant after controlling for age, sex, education, and health and cognitive variables that were also associated with an increased risk of mortality (HR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87–0.97, p=0.001). Controlling for dementia conversion prior to death did not attenuate the association between SOIT score and mortality (HR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87–0.97, p=0.001). Similar results were obtained for olfactory sensitivity as assessed by self-report. Overall, the present findings show that poor odor identification performance is associated with an increased likelihood of future mortality in middle-aged and older adults, after controlling for social, cognitive, and medical risk factors. Most importantly, controlling for the development of dementia did not attenuate the association between odor identification and mortality, suggesting that olfactory decline might mark deteriorating health also irrespective of dementia.

  • 2016. Fabio Del Missier (et al.).

    Age-related decline in complex cognitive tasks has been explained by changes in sensory functioning, processing speed, and working memory. However, there is still no agreement on the relative importance of these factors, and their relative role in decision making has not been investigated. In an individual-difference study on a population-based Swedish sample of adults (N = 563, age range 30-89), we disentangled the contribution of sensory decline, processing speed, and working memory measures to age-related changes in three cognitively-demanding decision-making tasks of the Adult Decision-Making Competence Battery (Resistance to Framing, Applying Decision Rules, Under/Overconfidence). Structural equation modeling showed that working memory is a significant predictor even when the influence of sensory variables, processing speed, and education (as a control for cohort effects) is taken into account. Moreover, the effects of sensory functioning and processing speed on decision making were mediated by working memory. These findings indicate that the age-related decline in complex decision-making tasks may not be entirely explained by changes in lower-level processes, highlighting the functional role of working memory processes.

  • 2016. Veit Kubik (et al.). Journal of Cognitive Psychology 28 (2), 209-219

    Testing memory typically enhances subsequent re-encoding of information (“indirect” testing effect) and, as compared to restudy, it also benefits later long-term retention (“direct” testing effect). We investigated the effect of testing on subsequent restudy and 1-week retention of action events (e.g. “water the plant”). In addition, we investigated if the type of recall practice (noun-cued vs. verb-cued) moderates these testing benefits. The results showed an indirect testing effect that increased following noun-cued recall of verbs as compared to verb-cued recall of nouns. In contrast, a direct testing effect on the forgetting rate of performed actions was not reliably observed, neither for noun- nor verb-cued recall. Thus, to the extent that this study successfully dissociated direct and indirect testing-based enhancements, they seem to be differentially effective for performed actions, and may rely on partially different mechanisms.

  • 2016. Jessica K. Ljungberg (et al.). Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 6 (1-2), 190-204

    Recent findings indicate that bilingualism delay the onset of dementia. Using data from the Betula longitudinal cohort study on memory, health and aging ( the issue of a possible protective effect of bilingualism was addressed. Monolingual (n = 736) and bilingual (n = 82) participants (= 60 years) without dementia at inclusion were followed for incident dementia over a time-period up to 10 years. In total, 112 participants developed dementia. Analyses were performed with Cox proportional hazards regression adjusted for age, sex, and presence/absence of the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon 4 allele, with dementia outcome as the dependent variable. Results showed no delayed onset of dementia in bilinguals compared to monolinguals. However, because of the findings from a study using participants from the same population showing beneficial longitudinal effects of bilingualism on episodic memory; we argue that our results may depend on the frequency of use of the second language after retirement.

Show all publications by Lars-Göran Nilsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 30, 2018

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