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Radiology. 2001 Oct;221(1):51-5.

Neuropsychologic correlates of brain white matter lesions depicted on MR images: 1921 Aberdeen Birth Cohort.

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Department of Mental Health, University of Aberdeen, Clinical Research Center, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Cornhill Rd, Aberdeen AB25 2ZJ, Scotland.



To examine relationships between brain white matter hyperintensities depicted at magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and performance on neuropsychologic tests in community-dwelling elderly adults.


The 1921 Aberdeen Birth Cohort is a subsample of survivors of the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932 whose mental ability was tested at 11 years of age. Ninety-five of these subjects agreed to undergo brain MR imaging, an examination of general health, and a neuropsychologic evaluation. White matter hyperintensities detected at T2-weighted MR imaging were rated by using a semiquantitative method yielding two continuous variables: white matter lesions and periventricular lesions. Cognitive ability, including crystallized and fluid intelligence domains, was assessed with standard neuropsychologic tests.


Rating scores of white matter lesions were normally distributed (on a devised scale) with means of 1.14 for white matter lesions and 1.28 for periventricular lesions. Intra- and interobserver reliability coefficients for scores were high, generally above 0.7. There were significant correlations of medium effect size between the T2-weighted MR imaging-depicted white matter lesions and performance on tests of fluid-type intelligence. No significant correlation was demonstrated between white matter lesion ratings and tests of crystallized intelligence.


Lower fluid-type ("prevailing") intelligence test scores were associated with increased severity of white matter lesion ratings but not crystallized-type ("premorbid") intelligence test scores. This indicates that MR imaging-depicted white matter lesions are of clinical importance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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