Format of Original
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) studies have shown that significant alteration in white matter (WM) integrity differentiates healthy older adults from persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Most studies, however, have been cross-sectional and have not related longitudinal DTI changes to cognitive change. Here we report changes in WM integrity and cognition in healthy older adults over an 18-month interval. Sixty-seven cognitively intact elders underwent neuropsychological testing and DTI at baseline to follow-up on the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (recall sum across trials 1-5, delayed recall) and Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2. Declining participants (N=21) showed a minimum of 1 SD reduction on at least one cognitive measure, while Stable participants (N=46) showed comparable scores at each time point. WM regions-of-interest were derived from Freesurfer. Hierarchical linear regression was used to predict fractional anisotropy (FA) change in regions frequently identified in DTI studies of MCI and AD including transentorhinal cortex, temporal lobe, and posterior cingulate. Groups did not differ at baseline in age, cognition, FA, or WM volume. After controlling for age and baseline FA, cognitive status (Declining, Stable) predicted the baseline to 18-month reduction in FA in the right hippocampal gyrus (p=.004) and left fusi-form gyrus (p=.01) with a trend in the left middle temporal gyrus (p=.06). Future research should examine WM changes in other brain regions and determine whether DTI diffusivity measures are related to cognitive decline.