Neuroanatomical correlates of cognitive performance in late life

Haobo Zhang, Perminder S. Sachdev, Wei Wen, Nicole A. Kochan, Wanlin Zhu, John D. Crawford, Henry Brodaty, Melissa J. Slavin, Simone Reppermund, Kristan Kang, Julian N. Trollor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Aim: While a number of studies examined the neuroanatomical correlates of cognitive function in older adults, the results have been inconsistent. Examination of a large epidemiologically acquired sample with high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging has the potential to enhance the evidence in this field. Methods: The participants were 326 non-demented elderly adults undergoing a battery of neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging scans. Regression analyses were performed to examine the correlation between voxel-based grey matter (GM) volume and four cognitive domain scores. Results: Positive correlations were observed between specific GM volumes and cognitive domains, i.e. bilateral temporal lobes and hippocampi with language; bilateral temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes with processing speed; and bilateral frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes with executive function. The positive correlation between verbal memory performance and GM volume in the bilateral medial temporal lobes was not significant after correction for age. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the location of GM correlates of cognitive tests is largely consistent with the conventional understanding of the neuroanatomical basis of cognition. However, the lack of hemispheric predominance in these GM correlates, and the extensively positive correlation between GM volume and cognitive performance, perhaps reflects the characteristics of the ageing brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-226
Number of pages11
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Grey matter
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study
  • Voxel-based morphometry


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