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White Matter and Cognitive Decline in Aging: A Focus on Processing Speed and Variability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2014

Jonna Nilsson
Affiliation:
Institute of Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Alan J. Thomas
Affiliation:
Institute of Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
John T. O'Brien
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Peter Gallagher*
Affiliation:
Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Peter Gallagher, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, The Henry Wellcome Building, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH UK. E-mail: peter.gallagher@ncl.ac.uk

Abstract

White matter (WM) change plays an important role in age-related cognitive decline. In this review, we consider methodological advances with particular relevance to the role of WM in age-related changes in processing speed. In this context, intra-individual variability in processing speed performance has emerged as a sensitive proxy of cognitive and neurological decline while neuroimaging techniques used to assess WM change have become increasingly more sensitive. Together with a carefully designed task protocol, we emphasize that the combined implementation of intra-individual variability and neuroimaging techniques hold promise for specifying the WM-processing speed relationship with implications for normative and clinical samples. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–6)

Type
Short Review
Copyright
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2014 

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