Cortisol homeostasis is important for healthy brain and cognitive aging. The aim of the current study is to investigate the role of serum cortisol levels in the relationship between regional brain volumes and cognitive processing speed in a group of cognitively normal elderly subjects. Forty-one healthy elderly participants were from a parallel longitudinal study. The reported data in this study reflects baseline measurements. Whole-brain anatomical scanning was performed using a 3.0 Tesla Philips Medical Systems Achieva scanner. Cognitive processing speed was assessed by the digit-symbol and symbol search tests, from the Chinese version of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—third edition (WAIS-III). Serum cortisol levels (sampled in the late morning) were measured by ELISA kits. Whole-brain regression analysis revealed that serum cortisol levels positively predicted the white matter volumes (WMV) of the right thalamus, the gray matter volumes (GMV) of the left thalamus and right cerebellar tonsil, and negatively predicted the WMV and GMV of the left middle temporal gyrus (MTG) in 41 healthy elderly participants. Furthermore, serum cortisol significantly moderated the relationship between the GMV of the left MTG and processing speed, as well as the GMV of the left thalamus and processing speed. This study provided the first piece of evidence supporting serum cortisol levels in moderating the relationship between regional brain volumes and processing speed in healthy elderly subjects. This observation enriches our understanding of the role of cortisol in brain morphology and cognitive functioning. Copyright © 2017 Lau, Leung, Law and Lee.
CitationLau, W. K. W., Leung, M. K., Law, A. C. K., & Lee, T. M. C. (2017). Moderating effects of cortisol on neural-cognitive association in cognitively normal elderly subjects. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00163
- Cognitive processing speed
- Brain volumes