Mapping cerebral pulse pressure and arterial compliance over the adult lifespan with optical imaging

Chin Hong Tan, Kathy A. Low, Tania Kong, Mark A. Fletcher, Benjamin Zimmerman, Edward L. MacLin, Antonio M. Chiarelli, Gabriele Gratton, Monica Fabiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cerebrovascular health is important for maintaining a high level of cognitive performance, not only in old age, but also throughout the lifespan. Recently, it was first demonstrated that diffuse optical imaging measures of pulse amplitude and arterial compliance can provide estimates of cerebral arterial health throughout the cortex, and were associated with age, estimated cardiorespiratory fitness (eCRF), neuroanatomy and cognitive function in older adults (aged 55-87). The current study replicates and extends the original findings using a broader age range (a new adult sample aged 18-75), longer recording periods (360 s), and a more extensive optical montage (1536 channels). These methodological improvements represent a 5-fold increase in recording time and a 4-fold increase in coverage compared to the initial study. Results show that reliability for both pulse amplitude and compliance measures across recording blocks was very high (r(45) = .99 and .75, respectively). Pulse amplitude and pulse pressure were shown to correlate with age across the broader age range. We also found correlations between arterial health and both cortical and subcortical gray matter volumes. Additionally, we replicated the correlations between arterial compliance and age, eCRF, global brain atrophy, and cognitive flexibility. New regional analyses revealed that higher performance on the operation span (OSPAN) working memory task was associated with greater localized arterial compliance in frontoparietal cortex, but not with global arterial compliance. Further, greater arterial compliance in frontoparietal regions was associated with younger age and higher eCRF. These associations were not present in the visual cortex. The current study not only replicates the initial one in a sample including a much wider age range, but also provides new evidence showing that frontoparietal regions may be especially vulnerable to vascular degeneration during brain aging, with potential functional consequences in cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0171305
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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