Little is known about the effect of obesity on brain structures and
cognition in healthy older adults. This study examined the association
between body mass index (BMI), regional volume differences in gray
and white matter measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and
cognitive functioning in older females. Participants included 95
community-dwelling older females (ages 52-92 years) who underwent
extensive neuropsychological testing and high-resolution MRI scanning.
Optimized voxel-based morphometry techniques were employed to determine
the correlation between BMI and regional gray and white matter volumes.
Volumes of significant regions were then correlated with cognitive
functioning. Higher BMI was associated with decreased gray matter
volumes in the left orbitofrontal, right inferior frontal, and right
precentral gyri, a right posterior region including the parahippocampal,
fusiform, and lingual gyri, and right cerebellar regions, as well
as increased volumes of white matter in the frontal, temporal, and
parietal lobes, even when hypertension was considered. Compared to
normal weight women, obese women performed poorer on tests of executive
functioning. Smaller gray matter volume in the left orbitofrontal
region was associated with lower executive functioning. Additionally,
despite the lack of significant group differences in memory and visuomotor
speed, gray and white matter volumes predicted performance on these
measures. The results provide additional evidence for a negative
link between increased body fat and brain functioning in older females.
Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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