Longitudinal changes in cortical thickness associated with normal aging

Neuroimage. 2010 Oct 1;52(4):1215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.258. Epub 2010 May 2.


Imaging studies of anatomic changes in regional gray matter volumes and cortical thickness have documented age effects in many brain regions, but the majority of such studies have been cross-sectional investigations of individuals studied at a single point in time. In this study, using serial imaging assessments of participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), we investigate longitudinal changes in cortical thickness during aging in a cohort of 66 older adults (mean age 68.78; sd. 6.6; range 60-84 at baseline) without dementia. We used the Cortical Reconstruction Using Implicit Surface Evolution CRUISE suite of algorithms to automatically generate a reconstruction of the cortical surface and identified twenty gyral based regions of interest per hemisphere. Using mixed effects regression, we investigated longitudinal changes in these regions over a mean follow-up interval of 8 years. The main finding in this study is that age-related decline in cortical thickness is widespread, but shows an anterior-posterior gradient with frontal and parietal regions, in general, exhibiting greater rates of decline than temporal and occipital. There were fewer regions in the right hemisphere showing statistically significant age-associated longitudinal decreases in mean cortical thickness. Males showed greater rates of decline in the middle frontal, inferior parietal, parahippocampal, postcentral, and superior temporal gyri in the left hemisphere, right precuneus and bilaterally in the superior parietal and cingulate regions. Significant nonlinear changes over time were observed in the postcentral, precentral, and orbitofrontal gyri on the left and inferior parietal, cingulate, and orbitofrontal gyri on the right.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Algorithms*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Neurological
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity