Long-term prognosis and educational determinants of brain network decline in older adult individuals

Micaela Y. Chan, Liang Han, Claudia A. Carreno, Ziwei Zhang, Rebekah M. Rodriguez, Megan LaRose, Jason Hassenstab, Gagan S. Wig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Older adults with lower education are at greater risk for dementia. It is unclear which brain changes lead to these outcomes. Longitudinal imaging-based measures of brain structure and function were examined in adult individuals (baseline age, 45–86 years; two to five visits per participant over 1–9 years). College degree completion differentiates individual-based and neighborhood-based measures of socioeconomic status and disadvantage. Older adults (~65 years and over) without a college degree exhibit a pattern of declining large-scale functional brain network organization (resting-state system segregation) that is less evident in their college-educated peers. Declining brain system segregation predicts impending changes in dementia severity, measured up to 10 years past the last scan date. The prognostic value of brain network change is independent of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-related genetic risk (APOE status), the presence of AD-associated pathology (cerebrospinal fluid phosphorylated tau, cortical amyloid) and cortical thinning. These results demonstrate that the trajectory of an individual’s brain network organization varies in relation to their educational attainment and, more broadly, is a unique indicator of individual brain health during older age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1067
Number of pages15
JournalNature Aging
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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