Engagement in Enriching Early-Life Activities Is Associated With Larger Hippocampal and Amygdala Volumes in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Kyle D. Moored, Thomas Chan, Vijay R. Varma, Yi Fang Chuang, Jeanine M. Parisi, Michelle C. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Numerous studies show benefits of mid- and late-life activity on neurocognitive health. Yet, few studies have examined how engagement in enriching activities during childhood, when the brain is most plastic, may confer long-term neurocognitive benefits that may be especially important to individuals raised in low-income settings. We examined associations between enriching early-life activities (EELAs) and hippocampal and amygdala volumes in a sample of predominantly African-American, community-dwelling older adults. We further assessed whether these associations were independent of current activity engagement. METHODS: Ninety participants from the baseline Brain Health Substudy of the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial (mean age: 67.4) completed retrospective activity inventories and an magnetic resonance imaging scan. Volumes were segmented using FreeSurfer. RESULTS: Each additional EELA was associated with a 2.3% (66.6 mm3) greater amygdala volume after adjusting for covariates. For men, each additional EELA was associated with a 4.1% (278.9 mm3) greater hippocampal volume. Associations were specific to these regions when compared with the thalamus, used as a control region. DISCUSSION: Enriching lifestyle activities during an important window of childhood brain development may be a modifiable factor that impacts lifelong brain reserve, and results highlight the importance of providing access to such activities in historically underserved populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1637-1647
Number of pages11
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
Volume75
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 14 2020

Keywords

  • Brain aging
  • Health disparities
  • Leisure activities
  • Neuroimaging
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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