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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience