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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;24(2):109-17. doi: 10.1002/gps.2087.

Aging of cerebral white matter: a review of MRI findings.

Author information

1
Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA. fgd2002@med.cornell.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cerebral aging is a complex and heterogeneous process that is associated with a high degree of inter-individual variability. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to identify and quantify non-disease-related aging of the cerebral white matter.

METHODS:

The present article reviews the findings from several MRI techniques, including morphometric approaches, study of white matter hyperintensities, diffusion tensor imaging, and magnetization transfer imaging, that have been used to examine aging of the cerebral white matter. Furthermore, the relationship of MRI indices of white matter integrity to age-related cognitive declines is reported.

RESULTS:

A general pattern of age-related preservation and decline emerges indicating that the prefrontal white matter is most susceptible to the influence of age. Studies that combine MRI with cognitive measures suggest that such age-related reductions in white matter integrity may produce a disconnection state that underlies some of the age-related performance declines in age-sensitive cognitive domains.

CONCLUSIONS:

White matter aging may contribute to a disconnection state that is associated with declines in episodic memory, executive functions, and information processing speed.

Comment in

PMID:
18637641
PMCID:
PMC2631089
DOI:
10.1002/gps.2087
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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