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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Sep;62(9):1048-55.

A regions-of-interest volumetric analysis of mobility limitations in community-dwelling older adults.

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School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



In community-dwelling older adults, greater mobility impairment is associated with greater burden of diffuse brain structural abnormalities, such as higher white matter hyperintensities. This study examined the association between gray matter volumes of regions related to motor control, gait, and balance and whether this association is independent of burden of white matter hyperintensities.


A random sample of 327 participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study (78.3 +/- 4.1 years old, 57% women) contributed brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mobility data. A brain imaging automated method measured gray matter volume in cerebellum, basal ganglia, and prefrontal and parietal cortex in both hemispheres. Gait speed was measured while walking 15 feet at usual pace. Standing balance was assessed by timing tandem stance. Associations between each region's volume and gait speed or balance were measured before and after adjustment for demographics, head size, cardiovascular risk factors, and 0-9 grading scores of white matter hyperintensities.


Smaller left cerebellum and left prefrontal regions were associated with slower gait, independently of covariates and of white matter hyperintensities. Smaller right putamen, right posterior superior parietal cortex, and both left and right cerebellum were associated with balance difficulty, independently of covariates and white matter hyperintensities.


Smaller gray matter volumes in regions crucial for motor control are associated with slower gait and poorer balance, and the association appears to be independent of other diffuse brain abnormalities such as white matter hyperintensities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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