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Journal Article

Impact of brain aging and neurodegeneration on cognition: Evidence from MRI


Draganski,  Bogdan
Laboratoire de Recherche en Neuroimagerie (LREN), Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Draganski, B., Lutti, A., & Kherif, F. (2013). Impact of brain aging and neurodegeneration on cognition: Evidence from MRI. Current Opinion in Neurology, 26(6), 640-645. doi:10.1097/WCO.0000000000000029.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0015-84AA-9
Purpose of review: We present an overview of recent concepts in mechanisms underlying cognitive decline associated with brain aging and neurodegeneration from the perspective of MRI. Recent findings: Recent findings challenge the established link between neuroimaging biomarkers of neurodegeneration and age-related or disease-related cognitive decline. Amyloid burden, white matter hyperintensities and local patterns of brain atrophy seem to have differential impact on cognition, particularly on episodic and working memory – the most vulnerable domains in ‘normal aging’ and Alzheimer's disease. Studies suggesting that imaging biomarkers of neurodegeneration are independent of amyloid-[beta] give rise to new hypothesis regarding the pathological cascade in Alzheimer's disease. Findings in patients with autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease confirm the notion of differential temporal trajectory of amyloid deposition and brain atrophy to add another layer of complexity on the basic mechanisms of cognitive aging and neurodegeneration. Finally, the concept of cognitive reserve in ‘supernormal aging’ is questioned by evidence for the preservation of neurochemical, structural and functional brain integrity in old age rather than recruitment of ‘reserves’ for maintaining cognitive abilities. Summary: Recent advances in clinical neuroscience, brain imaging and genetics challenge pathophysiological hypothesis of neurodegeneration and cognitive aging dominating the field in the last decade and call for reconsidering the choice of therapeutic window for early intervention.