Reposted from York University
For context, cerebral small vessel disease is a breaking down of the brain’s vascular system. This happens to all of us as we age. But larger changes to this system can cause cognitive problems. What happens with small vessel disease is that the smallest arteries in the brain become more rigid or brittle and as such, they may be more profoundly affected by normal changes that occur throughout our daily lives, such as changes in blood pressure.
This often affects the white matter of the brain, which is the brain’s communications or wiring, whereas large-vessel strokes often result in damage to the grey matter, where the neural processing occurs.
So what happens is the small vessels become blocked or rupture, which we can see in our imaging as bleeds or inflammation.
What we’re talking about are mini or silent strokes. When you mix these mini strokes with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects memory and typically starts in a specific part of the brain called the temporal lobes, you often see [a] more rapid cognitive decline. And we’re finding now that Alzheimer’s disease is almost always mixed with this form of small vessel disease or mini strokes. When this happens, the rates of dementia are much higher. The higher functions of the brain, like planning and decision-making, are likely to be affected.
What this paper asks is how do these changes in the vascular health of the brain impact cognitive functioning? Answering this question was the primary goal.
The GTA is now one of the leading hubs of neuroscience, a meeting centre for world-class research. We have an abundance of resources, expertise, talent and innovation.
York is playing an increasingly important role in this because we have the talent, and we now have the Vision Research Centre and the Neuroimaging Centre. At York, we’ve built up vision neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and neurobiology to be absolute core nodes of this engine of Toronto’s world-class research; York is becoming highly recognized as a vital node in this very impressive engine of discovery here in the GTA.
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