Relationship between hippocampal subfields volume and balance function in healthy older adults

Gait Posture. 2023 Mar:101:90-94. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2023.02.003. Epub 2023 Feb 4.


Background: The volume of the hippocampus and its subfields is known to be affected by aging, disease, and physical training. In regard to training, the differential effects of aerobic exercise and dance training on the subfield volume suggest that balance function may be involved. However, the relationship between balance function and the volume of the hippocampus and its subfields remains unclear.

Methods: Subjects were 30 cognitively intact individuals. They underwent balance tests, cognitive tests and structural MRI scans. The balance index measured was the index of postural stability (IPS) under a visual block condition and/or a proprioception block condition. MR images acquired using a 3-tesla system and three-dimensional T1-weighted images were segmented in the hippocampal subfield with Freesurfer 6.0.0. The relationship between the IPS and hippocampal volume was evaluated.

Results: A positive correlation was observed only between the IPS closed eyes/soft surface condition and whole hippocampal volume ratio. In the subfields, positive correlations were found between the IPS and molecular layer of the hippocampus, granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus (GC-ML-DG), and cornu ammonis areas (CA)3 and CA4. These correlations were stronger under the closed eyes/soft surface condition than under the other conditions.

Conclusions: A correlation between balance function and the volume of the hippocampus and subfields was found in healthy elderly subjects. The balance function may be involved in the volume of the whole hippocampus and specific subfields. The IPS closed eyes/soft surface condition is considered to reflect vestibular function. Thus, IPS may be useful in evaluations of the relationship between the vestibular system function via the hippocampus and balance.

Keywords: Balance; Brain Aging; Hippocampus.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Hippocampus*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods