Hippocampal volume and integrity as predictors of cognitive decline in intact elderly

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Abstract

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease can be predicted by volumetric analyses of MRI data in the medial temporal lobe. The present study compared a volumetric measurement of the hippocampus with a novel measure of hippocampal integrity (HI) derived from the ratio of parenchyma volume over total volume. Participants were cognitively intact and aged 60 years or older at baseline, and were tested twice, roughly 3 years apart. Participants had been recruited for a study on late-life major depression (LLMD) and were evenly split between depressed patients and controls. Linear regression models were applied to the data with a cognitive composite score as the outcome, and HI and volume, together or separately, as predictors. Subsequent cognitive performance was predicted well by models that included an interaction between HI and LLMD status, such that lower HI scores predicted more cognitive decline in depressed patients. More research is needed, but tentative results from this study appear to suggest that the newly introduced measure HI is an effective tool for the purpose of predicting future changes in general cognitive ability, and especially so in individuals with LLMD.

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