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Montréal, Canada
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Gauthier C.J.,University of Montréal | Gauthier C.J.,Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences | Lefort M.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Mekary S.,CRIUGM | And 16 more authors.
Neurobiology of Aging | Year: 2015

Human aging is accompanied by both vascular and cognitive changes. Although arteries throughout the body are known to become stiffer with age, this vessel hardening is believed to start at the level of the aorta and progress to other organs, including the brain. Progression of this vascular impairment may contribute to cognitive changes that arise with a similar time course during aging. Conversely, it has been proposed that regular exercise plays a protective role, attenuating the impact of age on vascular and metabolic physiology. Here, the impact of vascular degradation in the absence of disease was investigated within 2 groups of healthy younger and older adults. Age-related changes in executive function, elasticity of the aortic arch, cardiorespiratory fitness, and cerebrovascular reactivity were quantified, as well as the association between these parameters within the older group. In the cohort studied, older adults exhibited a decline in executive functions, measured as a slower performance in a modified Stroop task (1247.90 ± 204.50 vs. 898.20 ± 211.10ms on the inhibition and/or switching component, respectively) than younger adults. Older participants also showed higher aortic pulse wave velocity (8.98 ± 3.56 vs. 3.95 ± 0.82m/s, respectively) and lower VO2 max (29.04 ± 6.92 vs. 42.32 ± 7.31mL O2/kg/min, respectively) than younger adults. Within the older group, faster performance of the modified Stroop task was associated with preserved aortic elasticity (lower aortic pulse wave velocity; p = 0.046) and higher cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2 max; p = 0.036). Furthermore, VO2 max was found to be negatively associated with blood oxygenation level dependent cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 in frontal regions involved in the task (p = 0.038) but positively associated with cerebrovascular reactivity in periventricular watershed regions and within the postcentral gyrus. Overall, the results of this study support the hypothesis that cognitive status in aging is linked to vascular health, and that preservation of vessel elasticity may be one of the key mechanisms by which physical exercise helps to alleviate cognitive aging. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


Gauthier C.J.,University of Montréal | Madjar C.,CRIUGM | Desjardins-Crepeau L.,CRIUGM | Bellec P.,CRIUGM | And 3 more authors.
Neurobiology of Aging | Year: 2013

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of cognitive aging have generally compared the amplitude and extent of blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal increases evoked by a task in older and younger groups. BOLD is thus used as a direct index of neuronal activation and it is assumed that the relationship between neuronal activity and the hemodynamic response is unchanged across the lifespan. However, even in healthy aging, differences in vascular and metabolic function have been observed that could affect the coupling between neuronal activity and the BOLD signal. Here we use a calibrated fMRI method to explore vascular and metabolic changes that might bias such BOLD comparisons. Though BOLD signal changes evoked by a cognitive task were found to be similar between a group of younger and older adults (e.g., 0.50 ± 0.04% vs. 0.50 ± 0.05% in right frontal areas), comparison of BOLD and arterial spin labelling (ASL) responses elicited in the same set of structures by a controlled global hypercapnic manipulation revealed significant differences between the 2 groups. Older adults were found to have lower responses in BOLD and flow responses to hypercapnia (e.g., 1.48 ± 0.07% vs. 1.01 ± 0.06% over gray matter for BOLD and 24.92 ± 1.37% vs. 20.67 ± 2.58% for blood flow), and a generally lower maximal BOLD response M (5.76 ± 0.2% vs. 5.00 ± 0.3%). This suggests that a given BOLD response in the elderly might represent a larger change in neuronal activity than the same BOLD response in a younger cohort. The results of this study highlight the importance of ancillary measures such as ASL for the correct interpretation of BOLD responses when fMRI responses are compared across populations who might exhibit differences in vascular physiology. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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