The contributions of MRI-based measures of gray matter, white matter hyperintensity, and white matter integrity to late-life cognition

Jing He, V. S.S. Wong, E. Fletcher, P. Maillard, D. Y. Lee, A. M. Iosif, B. Singh, O. Martinez, A. E. Roach, S. N. Lockhart, L. Beckett, D. Mungas, S. T. Farias, O. Carmichael, C. DeCarli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: GM volume, WMH volume, and FA are each associated with cognition; however, few studies have detected whether these 3 different types of MR imaging measurements exert independent or additive effects on cognitive performance. To detect their extent of contribution to cognitive performance, we explored the independent and additive contributions of GM atrophy, white matter injury, and white matter integrity to cognition in elderly patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two hundred and 9 elderly patients participated in the study: 97 were CN adults, 65 had MCI, and 47 had dementia. We measured GM on T1-weighted MR imaging, WMH on FLAIR, and FA on DTI, along with psychometrically matched measures of 4 domains of cognitive performance, including semantic memory, episodic memory, executive function, and spatial abilities. RESULTS: As expected, patients with dementia performed significantly more poorly in all 4 cognitive domains, whereas patients with MCI performed generally less poorly than dementia patients, though considerable overlap in performance was present across groups. GM, FA, and WMH each differed significantly between diagnostic groups and were associated with cognitive measures. In multivariate models that included all 3 MR imaging measures (GM, WMH, and FA), GM volume was the strongest determinant of cognitive performance. CONCLUSIONS: These results strongly suggest that MR imaging measures of GM are more closely associated with cognitive function than WM measures across a broad range of cognitive and functional impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1803
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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