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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2007 Mar;20(1):3-21.

MR spectroscopy, functional MRI, and diffusion-tensor imaging in the aging brain: a conceptual review.

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  • 1Scientific Direction Unit, Istituto Nazionale Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy.


In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) have recently opened new possibilities for noninvasively assessing the metabolic, functional, and connectivity correlates of aging in research and clinical settings. The purpose of this article is to provide a conceptual review intended for a multidisciplinary audience, covering physical principles and main findings related to normal aging and senile cognitive impairment. This article is divided into 3 sections, dedicated to MRS, to fMRI, and to DTI. The spectroscopy section surveys physiological function of the observable metabolites, concentration changes in normal aging and their interpretation, and correlation with cognitive performance. The functional MRI section surveys the hemispheric asymmetry reduction model from compensation and de-differentiation viewpoints, memory encoding, retrieval and consolidation, inhibitory control, perception and action, resting-state networks, and functional deactivations. The DTI section surveys age-related changes, correlation with behavioral scores, and transition to cognitive impairment.

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