Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005 Sep;76(9):1229-33.

White matter hyperintensities as a predictor of neuropsychological deficits post-stroke.

Author information

Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 302, FIN-00029 HUS, Helsinki, Finland.



Cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are a recognised risk factor for post-stroke dementia. Their specific relations to cognitive impairment are still not well known. The purpose of this study was to explore how the severity and location of WMHs predict neuropsychological test performance in the context of other brain lesions in elderly stroke patients.


In the Helsinki Stroke Aging Memory Study, 323 patients, aged from 55 to 85 years, completed a detailed neuropsychological test battery and MRI 3 months after an ischaemic stroke. The demographic and MRI predictors of cognition were studied with sequential linear regression analyses.


After age, education and total infarct volume were controlled for, the overall degree of WMHs predicted poor performance in tests of mental speed, executive functions, memory, and visuospatial functions, but not in those of short term memory storage or verbal conceptualisation. However, the contribution of separate white matter regions was relatively low. Only the lesions along the bodies of lateral ventricles were independently associated with speed and executive measures. Additionally, general cortical atrophy clearly predicted a wide range of cognitive deficits while infarct volume had less relevance. Further analyses revealed that executive functions act as a strong mediator between the relationship of WMHs to memory and visuospatial functions.


The degree of WMHs is independently related to post-stroke cognitive decline. The most affected cognitive domains seem to be executive functions and speed of mental processing, which may lead to secondary deficits of memory and visuospatial functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center