Periventricular and deep abnormal white matter differ in associations with cognitive performance at midlife.
Published on Mar 1, 2021in Neuropsychology (journal)2.506
· DOI :10.1037/NEU0000718
Objective: Abnormal white matter (AWM) on magnetic resonance imaging is associated with cognitive performance in older adults. We explored cognitive associations with AWM during late-midlife. Method: Participants were community-dwelling men (n = 242; M = 61.90 years; range = 56-66). Linear-mixed effects regression models examined associations of total, periventricular, and deep AWM with cognitive performance, controlling for multiple comparisons. Models considering specific cognitive domains controlled for current general cognitive ability (GCA). We hypothesized that total AWM would be associated with worse processing speed, executive function, and current GCA; deep AWM would correlate with GCA and periventricular AWM would relate to specific cognitive abilities. We also assessed the potential influence of cognitive reserve by examining a moderation effect of early life (mean age of 20) cognition. Results: Greater total and deep AWM were associated with poorer current GCA. Periventricular AWM was associated with worse executive function, working memory, and episodic memory. When periventricular and deep AWM were modeled simultaneously, both retained their respective significant associations with cognitive performance. Cognitive reserve did not moderate associations. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that AWM contributes to poorer cognitive function in late-midlife. Examining only total AWM may obscure the potential differential impact of regional AWM. Separating total AWM into subtypes while controlling for current GCA revealed a dissociation in relationships with cognitive performance; deep AWM was associated with nonspecific cognitive ability whereas periventricular AWM was associated with specific frontal-related abilities and memory. Management of vascular or other risk factors that may increase the risk of AWM should begin during or before early late-midlife. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).