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Abstract #4533

Can mapping cortical diffusivity provide unique microstructural insight into aging?

Graham A. D. Archibald1, Jordan A. Chad1,2, David H. Salat3,4, and J. Jean Chen1,2
1Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, 3MGH/HST Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, United States, 4Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, United States

The aging process in the cerebral cortex is typically measured in-vivo via MRI-based cortical thickness. Here we show that mean diffusivity (MD), a parameter derived from diffusion MRI, serves as a more sensitive measure of aging than thickness across the cortex. MD shows distinct age-related differences than thickness, suggesting that MD can provide insight into microscopic degeneration that cannot be detected with macroscopic structural MRI measures. While diffusion MRI microstructural analyses are typically limited to the white matter, this work suggests that additionally assessing age-related differences in cortical gray matter diffusivity can offer potentially valuable information on early cortical degeneration.

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