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Brain structure and cognitive ability in healthy aging: a review on longitudinal correlated change


Oschwald, Jessica; Guye, Sabrina; Liem, Franziskus; Rast, Philippe; Willis, Sherry; Röcke, Christina; Jäncke, Lutz; Martin, Mike; Mérillat, Susan (2019). Brain structure and cognitive ability in healthy aging: a review on longitudinal correlated change. Reviews in the Neurosciences:ePub ahead of print.

Abstract

Little is still known about the neuroanatomical substrates related to changes in specific cognitive abilities in the course of healthy aging, and the existing evidence is predominantly based on cross-sectional studies. However, to understand the intricate dynamics between developmental changes in brain structure and changes in cognitive ability, longitudinal studies are needed. In the present article, we review the current longitudinal evidence on correlated changes between magnetic resonance imaging-derived measures of brain structure (e.g. gray matter/white matter volume, cortical thickness), and laboratory-based measures of fluid cognitive ability (e.g. intelligence, memory, processing speed) in healthy older adults. To theoretically embed the discussion, we refer to the revised Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition. We found 31 eligible articles, with sample sizes ranging from n = 25 to n = 731 (median n = 104), and participant age ranging from 19 to 103. Several of these studies report positive correlated changes for specific regions and specific cognitive abilities (e.g. between structures of the medial temporal lobe and episodic memory). However, the number of studies presenting converging evidence is small, and the large methodological variability between studies precludes general conclusions. Methodological and theoretical limitations are discussed. Clearly, more empirical evidence is needed to advance the field. Therefore, we provide guidance for future researchers by presenting ideas to stimulate theory and methods for development.

Abstract

Little is still known about the neuroanatomical substrates related to changes in specific cognitive abilities in the course of healthy aging, and the existing evidence is predominantly based on cross-sectional studies. However, to understand the intricate dynamics between developmental changes in brain structure and changes in cognitive ability, longitudinal studies are needed. In the present article, we review the current longitudinal evidence on correlated changes between magnetic resonance imaging-derived measures of brain structure (e.g. gray matter/white matter volume, cortical thickness), and laboratory-based measures of fluid cognitive ability (e.g. intelligence, memory, processing speed) in healthy older adults. To theoretically embed the discussion, we refer to the revised Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition. We found 31 eligible articles, with sample sizes ranging from n = 25 to n = 731 (median n = 104), and participant age ranging from 19 to 103. Several of these studies report positive correlated changes for specific regions and specific cognitive abilities (e.g. between structures of the medial temporal lobe and episodic memory). However, the number of studies presenting converging evidence is small, and the large methodological variability between studies precludes general conclusions. Methodological and theoretical limitations are discussed. Clearly, more empirical evidence is needed to advance the field. Therefore, we provide guidance for future researchers by presenting ideas to stimulate theory and methods for development.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:5 June 2019
Deposited On:26 Jun 2019 08:02
Last Modified:26 Jun 2019 08:02
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0334-1763
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2018-0096
PubMed ID:31194693

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