Brain cortical characteristics of lifetime cognitive ageing

Cox, S. R. et al. (2018) Brain cortical characteristics of lifetime cognitive ageing. Brain Structure and Function, 223(1), pp. 509-518. (doi: 10.1007/s00429-017-1505-0) (PMID:28879544) (PMCID:PMC5772145)

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Regional cortical brain volume is the product of surface area and thickness. These measures exhibit partially distinct trajectories of change across the brain’s cortex in older age, but it is unclear which cortical characteristics at which loci are sensitive to cognitive ageing differences. We examine associations between change in intelligence from age 11 to 73 years and regional cortical volume, surface area, and thickness measured at age 73 years in 568 community-dwelling older adults, all born in 1936. A relative positive change in intelligence from 11 to 73 was associated with larger volume and surface area in selective frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions (r < 0.180, FDR-corrected q < 0.05). There were no significant associations between cognitive ageing and a thinner cortex for any region. Interestingly, thickness and surface area were phenotypically independent across bilateral lateral temporal loci, whose surface area was significantly related to change in intelligence. These findings suggest that associations between regional cortical volume and cognitive ageing differences are predominantly driven by surface area rather than thickness among healthy older adults. Regional brain surface area has been relatively underexplored, and is a potentially informative biomarker for identifying determinants of cognitive ageing differences.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research and LBC1936 phenotype collection were supported by research into ageing and continue as part of The Disconnected Mind project, funded by Age UK, and by the UK Medical Research Council (G0701120, G1001245, and MR/M013111/1). Magnetic Resonance Image acquisition and analyses were conducted at the Brain Research Imaging Centre, Neuroimaging Sciences, University of Edinburgh ( which is part of SINAPSE (Scottish Imaging Network—A Platform for Scientific Excellence) collaboration ( funded by the Scottish Funding Council and the Chief Scientist Office. This work was undertaken within The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (, part of the Cross-Council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1), for which funding from the BBSRC and MRC is gratefully acknowledged. This work was partially supported by the Row Fogo Charitable Trust (BRO-D.FID3668413).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dickie, Dr David Alexander
Authors: Cox, S. R., Bastin, M. E., Ritchie, S. J., Dickie, D. A., Liewald, D. C., Muñoz Maniega, S., Redmond, P., Royle, N. A., Pattie, A., Valdés Hernández, M., Corley, J., Aribisala, B. S., McIntosh, A. M., Wardlaw, J. M., and Deary, I. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Journal Name:Brain Structure and Function
ISSN (Online):1863-2661
Published Online:06 September 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Brain Structure and Function 223(1):509-518
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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