The association of regional white matter lesions with cognition in a community-based cohort of older individuals

Research paper by Jiyang Jiang, Matthew Paradise; Tao Liu; Nicola J. Armstrong; Wanlin Zhu; Nicole A. Kochan; Henry Brodaty; Perminder S. Sachdev; Wei Wen

Indexed on: 22 Apr '18Published on: 18 Apr '18Published in: NeuroImage: Clinical


Publication date: 2018 Source:NeuroImage: Clinical, Volume 19 Author(s): Jiyang Jiang, Matthew Paradise, Tao Liu, Nicola J. Armstrong, Wanlin Zhu, Nicole A. Kochan, Henry Brodaty, Perminder S. Sachdev, Wei Wen Emerging evidence from lesion-symptom mapping (LSM) studies suggested that regional white matter lesions (WML) on strategic white matter (WM) fiber tracts are significantly associated with specific cognitive domains, independent of global WML burden. However, previous LSM investigations were mostly carried out in disease cohorts, with little evidence from community-based older individuals, making findings difficult to generalize. Moreover, most LSM studies applied a threshold to the probabilistic atlas, leading to the loss of information and threshold-dependent findings. Furthermore, it is still unclear whether associations between regional WML and cognition are independent of global grey matter (GM) and WM volumes, which have also been linked to cognition. In the current study, we undertook a region of interest (ROI) LSM study to examine the relationship between regional WML on strategic WM tracts and cognitive performance in a large community-based cohort of older individuals (N = 461; 70–90 years). WML were extracted using a publicly available pipeline, UBO Detector (https://cheba.unsw.edu.au/group/neuroimaging-pipeline). Mapping of WML to the Johns Hopkins University WM atlas was undertaken using an automated TOolbox for Probabilistic MApping of Lesions (TOPMAL), which we introduce here, and is implemented in UBO Detector. The results show that different patterns of brain structural volumes in the ageing brain were associated with different cognitive domains. Regional WML were associated with processing speed, executive function, and global cognition, independent of total GM, WM and WML volumes. Moreover, regional WML explained more variance in executive function, compared to total GM, WM and WML volumes. The current study highlights the importance of studying regional WML in age-related cognitive decline.