Mengfei Cai, Mina A.Jacob, David G.Norris, MarcoDuering, Frank-Erikde Leeuw, Anil M.Tuladhar (2021). Cognition mediates the relation between structural network efficiency and gait in small vessel disease. NeuroImage: Clinical.
In the recently published work in NeuroImage:Clinical, 20 April 2021, from the Department of Neurology, Mengfei Cai and his colleagues investigated the potential mechanisms of gait decline by using data from Radboud University Nijmegen Diffusion Tensor and Magnetic resonance Cohort (RUN DMC) study, a study running from 2006 onwards, at the Radboudumc and Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. They found that brain network efficiency has a crucial role in gait performance and decline, suggesting gait is a highly cognitive process in the elderly with small vessel disease.
Most older people aged higher than 65 years show signs of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) on MRI. SVD is recognized as an important cause of stroke and dementia, but its effect on gait impairment is only beginning to be recognized, but incompletely understood. This is important as gait decline in the elderly causes falls and results in loss of independence.
The RUN DMC team found that brain network efficiency was closely related to gait impairment by using quantitative gait parameters, advanced brain imaging analysis, and comprehensive cognitive tests. Interestingly, cognitive functioning mediated the relation between the efficiency of brain network connectivity and gait. These cross-sectional findings paved the way for a follow-up exploration to examine whether brain network communication has a causal role in gait impairment in elderly with SVD.