Global white matter diffusion characteristics predict longitudinal cognitive change independently of amyloid status in clinically normal older adults

Jennifer S. Rabin, Rodrigo D. Perea, Rachel F. Buckley, Taylor E. Neal, Randy L. Buckner, Keith A. Johnson, Reisa A. Sperling, Trey Hedden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

White matter degradation has been proposed as one possible explanation for age-related cognitive decline. In the present study, we examineD2 main questions: 1) Do diffusion characteristics predict longitudinal change in cognition independently or synergistically with amyloid status? 2) Are the effects of diffusion characteristics on longitudinal cognitive change tract-specific or global in nature? Cognitive domains of executive function, episodic memory, and processing speed were measured annually (mean follow-up = 3.93 ± 1.25 years). Diffusion tensor imaging and Pittsburgh Compound-B positron emission tomography were performed at baseline in 265 clinically normal older adults (aged 63-90). Tract-specific diffusion was measured as the mean fractional anisotropy (FA) for 9 major white matter tracts. Global diffusion was measured as the mean FA across the 9 white matter tracts. Linear mixed models demonstrated independent, rather than synergistic, effects of global FA and amyloid status on cognitive decline. After controlling for amyloid status, lower global FA was associated with worse longitudinal performance in episodic memory and processing speed, but not executive function. After accounting for global FA, none of the individual tracts predicted a significant change in cognitive performance. These findings suggest that global, rather than tract-specific, diffusion characteristics predict longitudinal cognitive decline independently of amyloid status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1262
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • aging
  • amyloid
  • cognition, MRI
  • white matter diffusion

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