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

P. Kochunov, T. Coyle, J. Lancaster, Donald 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

112 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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