Journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published an article about a research of the Chinese scientists into age-related changes in the brain. To monitor the microstructural changes of the human brain from early to mid-adulthood, they used the diffusion tensor imaging
(DTI) data. DTI is a non-invasive method, a special kind of the diffusion MRI, which allows analyzing the integrity and structure of the brain tissue, by mapping the diffusion process of molecules, mainly water, in biological tissues.
The experiment was performed on 111 subjects with healthy nervous system aged 18–55 years. The following metrics were studied:
- non-uniformity of water-molecules in the brain;
- their motion speed inside the tissue;
- motion direction in three-dimensional space – radial and axial diffusivity.
The obtained data show correlation of certain research metrics with the age. For example, in the process of aging the metric of non-uniformity and axial diffusivity is reducing, whereas that of radial diffusivity is increasing.
However, the researchers failed to reveal a correlation between the motion speed of water molecules and the age. They also identified the age of the subject based on the DTI data, as before the age could be identified only on the basis of the functional MRI data.
The research findings proved that changes in the brain start already at a young age. However, the scientists refrain from ambitious statements about correlation between aging and microstructural changes of the human brain, as the number of subjects participated in the study
was not large enough. Further research will allow for more specific and accurate conclusions.