The role of diffusion tensor imaging in the study of cognitive aging

Owen Carmichael, Samuel Lockhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This chapter gives an overview of the role that diffusion tensor MRI (DTI) can play in the study of cognitive decline that is associated with advancing age. A brief overview of biological injury processes that impinge on the aging brain is provided, and their overall effect on the integrity of neural architecture is described. Cognitive decline associated with aging, and white matter connectivity degradation as a biological substrate for that decline, is then described. We then briefly describe the technology of DTI as a means for in vivo, non-invasive interrogation of white matter connectivity, and relate it to FLAIR, a more traditional MRI method for assessing white matter injury. We then survey the existing findings on relationships between aging-associated neuropathological processes and DTI measurements on one hand; and relationships between DTI measurements and late-life cognitive function on the other. We conclude with a summary of current research directions in relation to DTI studies of cognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-320
Number of pages32
JournalCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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