Preserved executive functioning (EF) is crucial for daily functioning in the elderly and it appears to predict dementia development. We sought to clarify the role of atrophy-corrected cortical grey matter (GM) volume as a potential brain reserve (BR) marker for EF in the elderly. In total, 206 pre-surgical subjects (72.50 ± 4.95 years; mean MMSE score 28.50) were investigated. EF was primarily assessed using the Trail Making Test B (TMT B). Global/ lobar GM volumes were acquired with T1 MP-RAGE. Adjusting for key covariates including a brain atrophy index (i.e. brain parenchymal fraction), multiple linear regression analysis was used to study associations of GM volumes and TMT B. All GM volumes - most notably of global GM - were significantly associated with TMT B independently of GM atrophy (ß = -0.201 to -0.275, p = 0.001-0.012). Using atrophy-corrected GM volume as an estimate of maximal GM size in youth may serve as a BR predictor for cognitive decline in future studies investigating BR in the elderly.
Keywords: Brain reserve; Cognitive reserve; Elderly; Executive functioning; Neuroimaging; Neuropsychology.
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