Neuroanatomical correlates of selected executive functions in middle-aged and older adults: a prospective MRI study

Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(14):1929-41. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(03)00129-5.


Neuroanatomical substrates of age-related differences in working memory and perseverative behavior were examined in a sample of healthy adults (50-81 years old). The participants, who were screened for history of neurological, psychiatric, and medical conditions known to be linked to poor cognitive performance, underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and were administered tests of working memory and perseveration. Regional brain volumes and the volume of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) were measured on magnetic resonance images. The analyses indicate that the volume of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the volume of white matter hyperintensities in the prefrontal region are independently associated with age-related increases in perseverative errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). When participants taking antihypertensive medication were excluded from the analysis, both the volume of the prefrontal cortex and the frontal white matter hyperintensities (FWMH) still predicted increases in perseveration. Neither reduced volume of the prefrontal cortex nor the FWMH volume was linked to age-associated declines in working memory. The volumes of the fusiform gyrus (FG) and the temporal white matter hyperintensities (TWMH) were unrelated to cognitive performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics as Topic