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Psychol Sci. 2013 Jul 1;24(7):1198-207. doi: 10.1177/0956797612470959. Epub 2013 May 15.

Retinal vessel caliber and lifelong neuropsychological functioning: retinal imaging as an investigative tool for cognitive epidemiology.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, 2020 West Main St., Suite 201, Grey Building, Durham, NC 27708, USA. idan.shalev@duke.edu

Abstract

Why do more intelligent people live healthier and longer lives? One possibility is that intelligence tests assess health of the brain, but psychological science has lacked technology to evaluate this hypothesis. Digital retinal imaging, a new, noninvasive method to visualize microcirculation in the eye, may reflect vascular conditions in the brain. We studied the association between retinal vessel caliber and neuropsychological functioning in the representative Dunedin birth cohort. Wider venular caliber was associated with poorer neuropsychological functioning at midlife, independently of potentially confounding factors. This association was not limited to any specific test domain and extended to informants' reports of cohort members' cognitive difficulties in everyday life. Moreover, wider venular caliber was associated with lower childhood IQ tested 25 years earlier. The findings indicate that retinal venular caliber may be an indicator of neuropsychological health years before the onset of dementing diseases and suggest that digital retinal imaging may be a useful investigative tool for psychological science.

KEYWORDS:

brain; cognitive ability; cognitive neuroscience; intelligence; retinal imaging; venular caliber

PMID:
23678508
PMCID:
PMC3713191
DOI:
10.1177/0956797612470959
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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