Longitudinal brain structure and cognitive changes over 8 years in an East Asian cohort

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Although East Asia harbors the largest number of aging adults in the world, there is currently little data clarifying the longitudinal brain-cognition relationships in this group. Here, we report structural MRI and neuropsychological findings from relatively healthy Chinese older adults of the Singapore-Longitudinal Aging Brain Study cohort over 8 years of follow up (n=111, mean age=67.1 years, range=56.1–83.1 years at baseline). Aging-related change in structural volume was observed, with total cerebral atrophy at −0.56%/year, hippocampal atrophy at −0.94%/year and ventricular expansion at 3.56%/year. Only speed of processing showed an aging-related decline, while other cognitive domains were relatively maintained. Faster decline in global cognition was associated with total cerebral, hippocampal and gray matter volume losses over time. Faster total cerebral atrophy and white matter atrophy (frontal and parietal regions) was associated with faster decline in verbal memory. Hippocampal atrophy and ventricular expansion were both associated with greater decline in verbal memory and executive function. Our findings provide a benchmark for research on brain structural and cognitive changes with aging in East Asians.

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