Decline variability of cortical and subcortical regions in aging: a longitudinal study
Describing the trajectories of age-related change for different brain structures has been of interest in many recent studies. However, our knowledge regarding these trajectories and their associations is still limited due to small sample sizes and low numbers of repeated measures. For the present study, we used a large longitudinal dataset (four measurements over 4 years) comprising anatomical data from a sample of healthy older adults (N = 231 at baseline). This dataset enables us to gain new
... nsights about volumetric cortical and subcortical changes and their associations in the context of healthy aging. Brain structure volumes were derived from T1-weighted MRI scans using FreeSurfer segmentation tools. Brain structure trajectories were fitted using mixed models and latent growth curve models to gain information about the mean extent and variability of decline trajectories for different brain structures as well as the associations between individual trajectories. On the group level, our analyses indicate similar linear changes for frontal and parietal brain regions, while medial temporal regions showed an accelerated decline with advancing age. Regarding subcortical regions, some structures showed strong declines (e.g., hippocampus), others showed little decline (e.g., pallidum). Our data provide little evidence for sex differences regarding the aforementioned trajectories. Between-person variability of the person-specific slopes (random slopes) was largest in subcortical and medial temporal brain structures. When looking at the associations between the random slopes from each brain structure, we found that the decline is largely homogenous across the majority of cortical brain structures. In subcortical and medial temporal brain structures, however, more heterogeneity of the decline was observed, meaning that the extent of the decline in one structure is less predictive of the decline in another structure. Taken together, our study contributes to enhancing our understanding of structural brain aging by demonstrating (1) that average volumetric change differs across the brain and (2) that there are regional differences with respect to between-person variability in the slopes. Moreover, our data suggest (3) that random slopes are highly correlated across large parts of the cerebral cortex but (4) that some brain regions (i.e., medial temporal regions) deviate from this homogeneity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | www.frontiersin.org 1 September 2020 | Volume 14 | Article 363 Sele et al. Brain Structure Trajectories in Aging suggest (3) that random slopes are highly correlated across large parts of the cerebral cortex but (4) that some brain regions (i.e., medial temporal regions) deviate from this homogeneity. Keywords: aging, structural MRI, latent growth curve model, longitudinal data analysis, cortical and subcortical brain structure trajectories absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.