Brain aging research relies mostly on cross-sectional studies, which infer true changes from age differences. We present longitudinal measures of five-year change in the regional brain volumes in healthy adults. Average and individual differences in volume changes and the effects of age, sex and hypertension were assessed with latent difference score modeling. The caudate, the cerebellum, the hippocampus and the association cortices shrunk substantially. There was minimal change in the entorhinal and none in the primary visual cortex. Longitudinal measures of shrinkage exceeded cross-sectional estimates. All regions except the inferior parietal lobule showed individual differences in change. Shrinkage of the cerebellum decreased from young to middle adulthood, and increased from middle adulthood to old age. Shrinkage of the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortices, the inferior temporal cortex and the prefrontal white matter increased with age. Moreover, shrinkage in the hippocampus and the cerebellum accelerated with age. In the hippocampus, both linear and quadratic trends in incremental age-related shrinkage were limited to the hypertensive participants. Individual differences in shrinkage correlated across some regions, suggesting common causes. No sex differences in age trends except for the caudate were observed. We found no evidence of neuroprotective effects of larger brain size or educational attainment.
In a prospective cross-sectional study, we used computerized volumetry of magnetic resonance images to examine the patterns of brain aging in 148 healthy volunteers. The most substantial age-related decline was found in the volume of the prefrontal gray matter. Smaller age-related differences were observed in the volume of the fusiform, inferior temporal and superior parietal cortices. The effects of age on the hippocampal formation, the postcentral gyrus, prefrontal white matter and superior parietal white matter were even weaker. No significant age-related differences were observed in the parahippocampal and anterior cingulate gyri, inferior parietal lobule, pericalcarine gray matter, the precentral gray and white matter, postcentral white matter and inferior parietal white matter. The volume of the total brain volume and the hippocampal formation was larger in men than in women even after adjustment for height. Inferior temporal cortex showed steeper aging trend in men. Small but consistent rightward asymmetry was found in the whole cerebral hemispheres, superior parietal, fusiform and orbito-frontal cortices, postcentral and prefrontal white matter. The left side was larger than the right in the dorsolateral prefrontal, parahippocampal, inferior parietal and pericalcarine cortices, and in the parietal white matter. However, there were no significant differences in age trends between the hemispheres.
Deciphering the secret of successful aging depends on understanding the patterns and biological underpinnings of cognitive and behavioral changes throughout adulthood. That task is inseparable from comprehending the workings of the brain, the physical substrate of behavior. In this review, we summarize the extant literature on age-related differences and changes in brain structure, including postmortem and noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. Among the latter, we survey the evidence from volumetry, diffusion-tensor imaging, and evaluations of white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Further, we review the attempts to elucidate the mechanisms of age-related structural changes by measuring metabolic markers of aging through magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). We discuss the putative links between the pattern of brain aging and the pattern of cognitive decline and stability. We then present examples of activities and conditions (hypertension, hormone deficiency, aerobic fitness) that may influence the course of normal aging in a positive or negative fashion. Lastly, we speculate on several proposed mechanisms of differential brain aging, including neurotransmitter systems, stress and corticosteroids, microvascular changes, calcium homeostasis, and demyelination.
Cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of cortical thickness and volume have shown age effects on large areas, but there are substantial discrepancies across studies regarding the localization and magnitude of effects. These discrepancies hinder understanding of effects of aging on brain morphometry, and limit the potential usefulness of MR in research on healthy and pathological age-related brain changes. The present study was undertaken to overcome this problem by assessing the consistency of age effects on cortical thickness across 6 different samples with a total of 883 participants. A surface-based segmentation procedure (FreeSurfer) was used to calculate cortical thickness continuously across the brain surface. The results showed consistent age effects across samples in the superior, middle, and inferior frontal gyri, superior and middle temporal gyri, precuneus, inferior and superior parietal cortices, fusiform and lingual gyri, and the temporo-parietal junction. The strongest effects were seen in the superior and inferior frontal gyri, as well as superior parts of the temporal lobe. The inferior temporal lobe and anterior cingulate cortices were relatively less affected by age. The results are discussed in relation to leading theories of cognitive aging.
These findings extend the scope of beneficial effects of aerobic exercise beyond cardiovascular health, and they suggest a strong solid biological basis for the benefits of exercise on the brain health of older adults.
The authors reviewed the evidence of age differences in episodic memory for content of a message and the context associated with it. Specifically, the authors tested a hypothesis that memory for context is more vulnerable to aging than memory for content. In addition, the authors inquired whether effort at encoding and retrieval and type of stimulus material moderate the magnitude of age differences in both memory domains. The results of the meta-analysis of 46 studies confirmed the main hypothesis: Age differences in context memory are reliably greater than those in memory for content. Tasks that required greater effort during retrieval yielded larger age differences in content but not in context memory. The greatest magnitude of age differences in context memory was observed for those contextual features that were more likely to have been encoded independently from content. Possible mechanisms that may underlie age differences in context memory-attentional deficit, reduced working memory capacity, and failure of inhibitory processing are discussed.
Cerebral white matter of asymptomatic people frequently exhibits circumscribed areas of hyperintensity on magnetic resonance (MR) images and hypodensity on computed tomography scans. However, behavioral implications of this phenomenon remain unclear. In this meta-analysis, the authors examine cumulative evidence regarding the cognitive sequelae of white matter abnormalities in adults without dementia. The influence of potential moderator variables, such as neuroimaging technique, location of the lesions, rating scale, and demographic characteristics of the sample on the association between the burden of white matter hyperintensities and cognitive performance was also examined. Results indicate that white matter abnormalities observed on MR images are associated with attenuated performance on tasks of processing speed, immediate and delayed memory, executive functions, and indices of global cognitive functioning. There was no significant link between the white matter hyperintensities and psychometric indices of intelligence or fine motor performance.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.