MRI of the brain in neurologically healthy middle-aged and elderly individuals

Neuroradiology. 1997 Aug;39(8):537-45. doi: 10.1007/s002340050463.


Our purpose was to document the MRI appearances of the brain in healthy middle-aged to elderly subjects. T2- and proton density-weighted axial slices were obtained in 61 volunteers, 30-86 years of age. After visual inspection, signal intensities of brain structures were measured on T2-weighted images. Age-related changes became increasingly apparent after age 50. The main findings were that signal intensity of the white matter increased concomitantly with widening of the cerebrospinal fluid spaces; that basal ganglia remained stable; that high-signal foci in white matter increased in number and size after the age of 50 years; that periventricular high-signal foci were constant after the age of 65 years. Our visual impression of a decrease in signal intensity of the central grey matter with age seems to be mistaken. Pathological processes should be suspected if periventricular foci are found in middle-aged or young subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology