Structural covariance networks (SCNs) may
be an important indicator of diminished cognitive functioning in older
persons, suggested an article published in Brain Connectivity.
The decreased expression of some SCNs in the brain is associated with advancing age, whereas other
networks are less affected by age, and this new study now points to the
independent effects of cerebral small vessel disease on SCNs.
‘The micro-scale blood vessel alterations in the brain are correlated to impaired cognitive functioning with advancing age.’
Jessica Foster-Dingley, Jeroen van der Grond from Leiden
University Medical Center and Leiden University, the Netherlands and
CAPRI-University of Antwerp, Belgium, analyzed the magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) scans of study participants aged 75-96 years who had mild
loss in cognitive function. The researchers assessed the volume of white
matter hyperintensities, microbleeds, and other vascular changes
associated with small vessel disease. They compared this to the
expression of SCNs, age, memory loss, and psychomotor speed.
"Scientific consensus is building that age related cognitive decline
is connected to maladaptive changes in the brain's small blood
vessels," says Christopher Pawela, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Brain Connectivity
and Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin. "Leiden
University researchers have performed an elegant study using magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate that these micro-scale blood
vessel alterations are related to decreased detection of certain imaging
brain networks and, furthermore, that decreased detection of these
brain networks is correlated to impaired cognitive functioning using
standard behavioral testing methods."