Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Analyses of Anatomical Sulcal Changes Associated with Aging


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Abstract

Imaging studies of the human brain indicate that the cortex undergoes anatomic changes during the aging process. With the ability to study the human brain in vivo using magnetic resonance imaging, understanding the nature and location of these changes is of increasing interest. In this work, we investigate cross-sectional and longitudinal age effects on the geometric shape and gray matter (GM) volume for regions of interest on the cortical surface. Each of the regions corresponds to the buried cortex surrounding the sulcal spaces and is termed a “sulcal region.” The study consists of 35 older adults scanned three times over a 4-year time span. The group includes 19 women and 16 men ranging in ages from 59 to 84 years (mean 70.9, standard deviation 6.2). We analyze 8 sulcal regions—the buried cortex surrounding the left and right central, superior frontal, cingulate, and parietooccipital sulci. We examine surface area, GM thickness, GM volume, sulcal depth, local gyrification index, and measures of curvature. Results indicate cross-sectional age effects in mean thickness, GM volume, sulcal depth, and curvature characteristics of sulcal regions. In addition, we found longitudinal decreases in surface area, mean thickness, GM volume, and sulcal depth measures as well as changes in sulcal curvature.

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