Processing speed is correlated with cerebral health markers in the frontal lobes as quantified by neuroimaging

P. Kochunov, T. Coyle, J. Lancaster, D. A. Robin, J. Hardies, V. Kochunov, G. Bartzokis, J. Stanley, D. Royall, A. E. Schlosser, M. Null, P. T. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


We explored relationships between decline in cognitive processing speed (CPS) and change in frontal lobe MRI/MRS-based indices of cerebral integrity in 38 healthy adults (age 57-90 years). CPS was assessed using a battery of four timed neuropsychological tests: Grooved Pegboard, Coding, Symbol Digit Modalities Test and Category Fluency (Fruits and Furniture). The neuropsychological tests were factor analyzed to extract two components of CPS: psychomotor (PM) and psychophysical (PP). MRI-based indices of cerebral integrity included three cortical measurements per hemisphere (GM thickness, intergyral and sulcal spans) and two subcortical indices (fractional anisotropy (FA), measured using track-based spatial statistics (TBSS), and the volume of hyperintense WM (HWM)). MRS indices included levels of choline-containing compounds (GPC + PC), phosphocreatine plus creatine (PCr + Cr), and N-acetylaspartate (NAA), measured bilaterally in the frontal WM bundles. A substantial fraction of the variance in the PM-CPS (58%) was attributed to atrophic changes in frontal WM, observed as increases in sulcal span, declines in FA values and reductions in concentrations of NAA and choline-containing compounds. A smaller proportion (20%) of variance in the PP-CPS could be explained by bilateral increases in frontal sulcal span and increases in HWM volumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1190-1199
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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