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Brain peak width of skeletonised mean diffusivity (PSMD), processing speed, and other cognitive domains

By BH Smith, Stuart J. Ritchie, Susana Muñoz Maniega, SR Cox, Maria C Valdés Hernández, John M. Starr, Joanna M. Wardlaw, M.E. Bastin

Posted 04 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/385013

It is suggested that the brain's peak width of skeletonised water mean diffusivity (PSMD) is a neuro-biomarker of processing speed, a crucial contributor to cognitive ageing. We tested whether PSMD is more strongly correlated with processing speed than with other cognitive domains, and more strongly than other structural brain MRI indices. Participants were 731 Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 members, mean age 73 years (SD=0.7); analytical sample was 656-680. Cognitive domains tested were: processing speed (5 tests), visuospatial (3), memory (3), and verbal (3). Brain-imaging variables included PSMD, white matter diffusion parameters and hyperintensity volumes, grey and white matter volumes, and perivascular spaces. PSMD was significantly associated with all processing speed tests; absolute standardised beta values were 0.11 to 0.23 (mean = 0.17). Other structural brain-imaging variables correlated as or more strongly. PSMD was significantly associated with processing speed (-0.27), visuospatial (-0.23), memory (-0.17), and general cognitive ability (-0.25). PSMD correlated with processing speed: but not more strongly than with other cognitive domains; and not more strongly than other brain-imaging measures.

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