Case Study - Brain behavior relations amongst racially and ethnically diverse populations

Studies exploring brain behavior relationships in minority populations are limited. Structural brain imaging is commonly used to study the biology of normal aging and cognitive impairment and therefore may serve to validate current clinical diagnostic and cognitive assessment protocols while simultaneously exploring potential biological differences in cognitive impairment amongst racially and ethnically diverse individuals. We have recently completed a study examining the relationship between clinical diagnosis at the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center (ADC) and brain, while matter hyperintensity (WMH), and hippocampal volumes for African Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. Results from 134 subjects are displayed below.

Preliminary results show the expected relationships between clinical diagnosis and MRI measures for the combined group as shown in the top panel. The relationship between brain volume and clinical diagnosis by racial and ethnic group is displayed in the bottom panel. These results suggest that the linguistically and culturally appropriate clinical diagnostic protocols currently in use at the ADC are significantly associated with expected morphological brain differences, offering convergent validity to these clinical assessments within a diverse study population. Moreover, subtle differences in the relationships between clinical diagnoses and brain morphology between racial and ethnic groups are apparent, offering new avenues for future research.

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