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Title: Life course influences on cognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease
Author: Shenkin, Susan Deborah
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis aimed to investigate life coarse influences on cognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) in older people. 110 community-dwelling subjects (70.0% female, mean age 78.2 (SD 1.4) years) born in Edinburgh hospitals between 1921 and 1926 had birth parameters (weight, length, placental weight) extracted from archives, underwent physical and neuropsychological tests, and imaging of brain volume, white matter lesions (WML) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). (1) Relationship between cognitive ability and structural brain indices. Cognitive ability (g) was associated with both whole brain volume (r = .24, P <.05) and intracranial area (r = .27, P <.01), suggesting the relationship between brain size and cognitive ability in old age is due to the persistence of this relationship from earlier life. (2) Relationships among early life factors (birth parameters, social class, the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene) and cognitive ability. There was an association between birth weight and cognitive ability in old age (Raven’s r = .20, P = .04; MMSE ρ = .23, P = .02), partly but not fully explained by this association in earlier life. Therefore, the prenatal environment may influence cognitive ability into old age. Social class correlated negatively with cognitive ability in childhood (ρ = .21, P = .02) but not later life (Raven’s ρ = -.09, P = .36): the influence of the shared environment decreases with time. APOEe4 was associated with worse performance on logical memory only. (3) Relationship among early life factors and CVD. Birth parameters, particularly placental weight, were associated with a history of CVD (t = -2.2, P = .04), WML load (ρ = -.23, P = .04), and DTI ( r ~ -.25, P = .03, FA frontal r = .36, P = .001), suggesting placental function may be important for the development and integrity of WM tracts. There was no association between either social class or APOEe4 and CVD.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available