Aging, gender, and the elderly adult brain: an examination of analytical strategies

Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Feb;29(2):290-302. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2006.09.016. Epub 2006 Oct 16.


We sought to examine the relations between age, gender and brain volumes in an elderly population; we also sought to examine ways of measuring these relations. Three sets of analyses were used: correlational analyses, in which correlations between independent variables and brain volumes were calculated without correction for intracranial volume (ICV); covariational analyses, in which ICV was used as a covariate in regression equations; and ratio analyses, in which the dependent variable was the ratio of brain volume to ICV. These analyses yielded similar results, except that (as expected) adjusting for ICV altered estimates of gender differences. Analyses of age showed decreases in left caudate, putamen, and right hippocampus and an increase in CSF, a result generally in accord with previous findings. However, we also found a significant decrease of white-matter volumes and no significant decrease in total gray-matter volumes. Correlational analyses showed that men did not always have larger volumes despite their larger head size; women generally had larger volumes after adjusting for ICV. We found no age-gender interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Characteristics*