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Vestibular function and cortical and sub-cortical alterations in an aging population

Abstract : While it is well known that the vestibular system is responsible for maintaining balance, posture and coordination, there is increasing evidence that it also plays an important role in cognition. Moreover, a growing number of epidemiological studies are demonstrating a link between vestibular dysfunction and cognitive deficits in older adults; however, the exact pathways through which vestibular loss may affect cognition are unknown. In this cross-sectional study, we sought to identify relationships between vestibular function and variation in morphometry in brain structures from structural neuroimaging. We used a subset of 80 participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, who had both brain MRI and vestibular physiological data acquired during the same visit. Vestibular function was evaluated through the cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potential (cVEMP). The brain structures of interest that we analyzed were the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, insula, entorhinal cortex (ERC), trans-entorhinal cortex (TEC) and perirhinal cortex, as these structures comprise or are connected with the putative "vestibular cortex." We modeled the volume and shape of these structures as a function of the presence/absence of cVEMP and the cVEMP amplitude, adjusting for age and sex. We observed reduced overall volumes of the hippocampus and the ERC associated with poorer vestibular function. In addition, we also found significant relationships between the shape of the hippocampus (p ¼ 0.0008), amygdala (p ¼ 0.01), thalamus (p ¼ 0.008), caudate nucleus (p ¼ 0.002), putamen (p ¼ 0.02), and ERC-TEC complex (p ¼ 0.008) and vestibular function. These findings provide novel insight into the multiple pathways through which vestibular loss may impact brain structures that are critically involved in spatial memory, navigation and orientation.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 5:45:00 PM
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Athira Jacob, Daniel Tward, Susan Resnick, Paul Smith, Christophe Lopez, et al.. Vestibular function and cortical and sub-cortical alterations in an aging population. Heliyon, Elsevier 2020, 6, ⟨10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04728⟩. ⟨hal-02988497⟩

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