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Objectives: To test the hypothesis that brain arterial diameters are associated with cognitive performance, particularly in arteries supplying domain-specific territories. Methods: Stroke-free participants in the Northern Manhattan Study were invited to have a brain MRI from 2003–2008. The luminal diameters of 13 intracranial arterial segments were obtained using time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), and then averaged and normalized into a global score and region-specific arterial diameters. Z-Scores for executive function, semantic memory, episodic memory and processing speed were obtained at MRI and during follow-up. Adjusted generalized additive models were used to assess for associations. Results: Among the 1034 participants with neurocognitive testing and brain MRI, there were non-linear relationships between left anterior (ACA) and middle cerebral artery (MCA) diameter and semantic memory Z-scores (χ2=10.00; DF=3; p=.019), and left posterior cerebral artery (PCA) and posterior communicating artery (Pcomm) mean diameter and episodic memory Z-scores (χ2=9.88; DF=3; p=.020). Among the 745 participants who returned for 2nd neuropsychological testing, on average 5.0±0.4 years after their MRI, semantic memory change was associated non-linearly with the left PCA/Pcomm mean diameter (χ2=13.09; DF=3; p=.004) and with the right MCA/ACA mean diameter (χ2=8.43; DF=3; p=.03). In both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, participants with the larger brain arterial diameters had more consistently lower Z-scores and greater decline than the rest of the participants. Conclusions: Brain arterial diameters may have downstream effects in brain function presenting as poorer cognition. Identifying the mechanisms and the directionality of such interactions may increase the understanding of the vascular contribution to cognitive impairment and dementia. (JINS, 2018, 24, 335–346)
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a clustering of vascular risk factors and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Less is known about the relationship between MetS and cognition. We examined component vascular risk factors of MetS as correlates of different cognitive domains. The Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) includes 1290 stroke-free participants from a largely Hispanic multi-ethnic urban community. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to model latent variables of MetS, assessed at baseline and an average of 10 years later, at which time participants also underwent a full cognitive battery. The two four-factor models, of the metabolic syndrome (blood pressure, lipid levels, obesity, and fasting glucose) and of cognition (language, executive function, psychomotor, and memory), were each well supported (CFI=0.97 and CFI=0.95, respectively). When the two models were combined, the correlation between metabolic syndrome and cognition was −.31. Among the metabolic syndrome components, only blood pressure uniquely predicted all four cognitive domains. After adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, smoking, alcohol, and risk factor treatment variables, blood pressure remained a significant correlate of all domains except memory. In this stroke-free race/ethnically diverse community-based cohort, MetS was associated with cognitive function suggesting that MetS and its components may be important predictors of cognitive outcomes. After adjusting for sociodemographic and vascular risk factors, blood pressure was the strongest correlate of cognitive performance. Findings suggest MetS, and in particular blood pressure, may represent markers of vascular or neurodegenerative damage in aging populations. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–10)
The presence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in patients with transient global amnesia has been an interesting phenomenologic finding. Several theories surround the occurrence of this syndrome, but little is known about its true physiopathology. We present a case of transient global amnesia after cardiac catheterization associated with migraine headache and MRI changes compatible with an ischemic insult. A discussion on potential explanations for this finding is made, as well as a review of the pertinent literature.
The meanings of several target neuropsychological variables, including measures of executive functioning, were examined using contextual analysis across a sample of English-speakers and a sample of Spanish-speakers. Results of the contextual analysis, which examined the contributions of the latent constructs of memory, psychomotor speed, visual spatial ability, and knowledge and comprehension, to the target neuropsychological variables indicate that each of the target variables likely reflects the unique contribution of several reference abilities. These findings provide evidence that the neuropsychological variables are multi-dimensional. The patterns of relations were similar across the samples of English and Spanish speakers. (JINS, 2012, 18, 223–233)
Cognitive reserve is a hypothetical construct that has been used to inform models of cognitive aging and is presumed to be indicative of life experiences that may mitigate the effects of brain pathology. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the construct validity of cognitive reserve by examining both its convergent and its discriminant validity across three different samples of participants using structural equation modeling. The cognitive reserve variables were found to correlate highly with one another (thereby providing evidence of convergent validity), but demanding tests of discriminant validity indicated that, in two of the samples, the cognitive reserve construct was highly related to an executive functioning construct. (JINS, 2009, 15, 558–569.)
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