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    White matter integrity, hippocampal volume, and cognitive performance of a world-famous nonagenarian track-and-field athlete.
    Neurocase 2016 3;22(2):135-44. Epub 2015 Aug 3.
    a The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois , Urbana , IL 61801 , USA.
    Physical activity (PA) and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) are associated with successful brain and cognitive aging. However, little is known about the effects of PA, CRF, and exercise on the brain in the oldest-old. Here we examined white matter (WM) integrity, measured as fractional anisotropy (FA) and WM hyperintensity (WMH) burden, and hippocampal (HIPP) volume of Olga Kotelko (1919-2014). Olga began training for competitions at age of 77 and as of June 2014 held over 30 world records in her age category in track-and-field. We found that Olga's WMH burden was larger and the HIPP was smaller than in the reference sample (58 healthy low-active women 60-78 years old), and her FA was consistently lower in the regions overlapping with WMH. Olga's FA in many normal-appearing WM regions, however, did not differ or was greater than in the reference sample. In particular, FA in her genu corpus callosum was higher than any FA value observed in the reference sample. We speculate that her relatively high FA may be related to both successful aging and the beneficial effects of exercise in old age. In addition, Olga had lower scores on memory, reasoning and speed tasks than the younger reference sample, but outperformed typical adults of age 90-95 on speed and memory. Together, our findings open the possibility of old-age benefits of increasing PA on WM microstructure and cognition despite age-related increase in WMH burden and HIPP shrinkage, and add to the still scarce neuroimaging data of the healthy oldest-old (>90 years) adults.

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    Behav Brain Res 2015 May 2;284:51-7. Epub 2015 Feb 2.
    Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
    The neuroprotective effects of physical activity (PA) are consistently shown in older adults, but the neural substrates, particularly in white matter (WM), are understudied, especially in very old adults with the fastest growth rate and the highest risk of dementia. This study quantified the association between PA and WM integrity in adults over 80. The moderating effects of cardiometabolic conditions, physical functional limitations and WM hyperintensities were also examined, as they can affect PA and brain integrity. Read More
    The association between higher order abilities, processing speed, and age are variably mediated by white matter integrity during typical aging.
    Neuropsychologia 2013 Jul 16;51(8):1435-44. Epub 2013 Mar 16.
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
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    Cerebral White Matter and Slow Gait: Contribution of Hyperintensities and Normal-appearing Parenchyma.
    J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2016 Jul 11;71(7):968-73. Epub 2016 Jan 11.
    Department of Epidemiology and.
    Background: White matter hyperintensities (WMH), a common marker of cerebral small vessel disease, and lower microstructural integrity of normal-appearing white matter are associated with slower gait. How these cerebral measures interact in relation to slower gait is unknown. We assessed whether microstructural integrity of normal-appearing white matter, measured by fractional anisotropy (FA), moderates the association of higher WMH with slower gait. Read More
    White matter integrity in physically fit older adults.
    Neuroimage 2013 Nov 12;82:510-6. Epub 2013 Jun 12.
    Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, TX, USA.
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