Longitudinal studies indicate that declines in cognition and memory accelerate after age 70 years. The neuroanatomic and neurophysiologic underpinnings of cognitive change are unclear, as there is little information on longitudinal brain changes. We are conducting a longitudinal neuroimaging study of nondemented older participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. This report focuses on age and sex differences in brain structure measured by magnetic resonance imaging during the first two annual evaluations. Cross-sectional results from 116 participants aged 59-85 years reveal significantly larger ventricular volumes and smaller gray and white matter volumes in older compared with younger participants and in men compared with women. Regional brain volumes show that the effects of age and sex are not uniform across brain regions. Age differences are greatest for the parietal region. Sex differences tend to be larger for frontal and temporal than parietal and occipital regions. Longitudinal analysis demonstrates an increase of 1526 mm(3) in ventricular volume over 1 year, but no detectable change in total or regional brain volumes. Definition of the pattern and rate of longitudinal brain changes will facilitate the detection of pathological brain changes, which may be predictors of dementia.
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