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Brain biomarkers and cognition across adulthood

Tsapanou, Angeliki; Habeck, Christian G.; Gazes, Yunglin; Razlighi, Qolamreza R.; Sakhardande, Jayant D.; Stern, Yaakov; Salthouse, Timothy

Understanding the associations between brain biomarkers (BMs) and cognition across age is of paramount importance. Five hundred and sixty‐two participants (19–80 years old, 16 mean years of education) were studied. Data from structural T1, diffusion tensor imaging, fluid‐attenuated inversion recovery, and resting‐state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans combined with a neuropsychological evaluation were used. More specifically, the measures of cortical, entorhinal, and parahippocampal thickness, hippocampal and striatal volume, default‐mode network and fronto‐parietal control network, fractional anisotropy (FA), and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) were assessed. z‐Scores for three cognitive domains measuring episodic memory, executive function, and speed of processing were computed. Multiple linear regressions and interaction effects between each of the BMs and age on cognition were examined. Adjustments were made for age, sex, education, intracranial volume, and then, further, for general cognition and motion. BMs were significantly associated with cognition. Across the adult lifespan, slow speed was associated with low striatal volume, low FA, and high WMH burden. Poor executive function was associated with low FA, while poor memory was associated with high WMH burden. After adjustments, results were significant for the associations: speed‐FA and WMH, memory‐entorhinal thickness. There was also a significant interaction between hippocampal volume and age in memory. In age‐stratified analyses, the most significant associations for the young group occurred between FA and executive function, WMH, and memory, while for the old group, between entorhinal thickness and speed, and WMH and speed, executive function. Unique sets of BMs can explain variation in specific cognitive domains across adulthood. Such results provide essential information about the neurobiology of aging.


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Human Brain Mapping

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May 4, 2021