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Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jul;50(8):1759-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.03.033. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Age-related changes in parahippocampal white matter integrity: a diffusion tensor imaging study.

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Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


The axons in the parahippocampal white matter (PWM) region that includes the perforant pathway relay multimodal sensory information, important for memory function, from the entorhinal cortex to the hippocampus. Previous work suggests that the integrity of the PWM shows changes in individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and is further compromised as Alzheimer's disease progresses. The present study was undertaken to determine the effects of healthy aging on macro- and micro-structural alterations in the PWM. The study characterized in vivo white matter changes in the parahippocampal region that includes the perforant pathway in cognitively healthy young (YNG, n=21) compared to cognitively healthy older (OLD, n=21) individuals using volumetry, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography. Results demonstrated a significant reduction in PWM volume in old participants, with further indications of reduced integrity of remaining white matter fibers. In logistic regressions, PWM volume, memory performance and DTI indices of PWM integrity were significant indicator variables for differentiating the young and old participants. Taken together, these findings suggest that age-related alterations do occur in the PWM region and may contribute to the normal decline in memory function seen in healthy aging by degrading information flow to the hippocampus.

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