Infarcts, Hippocampal Volume Independently Linked to Memory

Brain infarcts, hippocampal volume independently tied to poor memory in dementia-free elderly

TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- In elderly individuals without dementia, the presence of brain infarcts and a smaller hippocampal volume are independently associated with poor memory, according to a study published in the Jan 3. issue of Neurology.

Sonja Blum, M.D., Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues investigated the contribution of vascular lesions, including brain infarcts, to hippocampal integrity and age-associated memory decline in 658 elderly participants, without dementia, from a community-based study on aging and dementia. Participants underwent high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging. Standard protocols were followed to identify cortical and subcortical infarcts, and to calculate hippocampal and relative brain volumes. A comprehensive neuropsychological battery was performed to derive summary scores reflecting performance on tasks of memory, language, processing speed, and visuospatial function. Cortical and subcortical infarcts and hippocampal and relative brain volume were analyzed in association with measures of cognitive performance in domains of memory, language, processing speed, and visuospatial ability.

The investigators identified an association between a smaller hippocampus and the presence of brain infarcts. Smaller hippocampal volume correlated specifically with poorer memory. In all other domains, brain infarcts correlated with poorer memory and cognitive performance, independent of the hippocampus volume.

"Both hippocampal volume and brain infarcts independently contribute to memory performance in elderly individuals without dementia. Given that age-associated neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, are defined primarily by impairment in memory, these findings have clinical implications for prevention and for identification of pathogenic factors associated with disease symptomatology," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. One author disclosed financial ties to a consulting firm related to psychometric rating scales.

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