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14.45 Relationships between walking speed, cognition & brain pathologies: an imaging study of the 1946 birth cohort
  1. Sarah M Buchanan1,
  2. Thomas D Parker1,
  3. Christopher A Lane1,
  4. Ashvini Keshavan1,
  5. Sarah E Keuss1,
  6. Anette E Schrag2,
  7. Nick C Fox1,
  8. Marcus Richards3,
  9. Jonathan M Schott1
  1. 1Dementia Research Centre, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London
  2. 2Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Royal Free Campus UCL Institute of Neurology
  3. 3MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, London


Introduction Slowing of gait is associated with risk of cognitive decline, but whether this is due to brain pathology or a consequence of normal neural ageing remains unclear. We investigate associations between gait speed, cognitive test scores, white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume, whole brain volume (WBV) and β-amyloid load in a sample of healthy older adults born in the same week of March 1946 in mainland Britain.

Methods 502 participants underwent quantitative gait measurement, neuropsychological assessment, structural MRI and 18F-florbetapir amyloid PET. Excluding individuals with major neurological disease or missing data, 374 individuals (age 70.6 ±0.69 years) were analysed.

Results Mean self-paced walking speed was 1.44 ± 0.19 ms-1. Slower walking speed was associated with lower performance on the Digit-Symbol Substitution test (p=0.007) and MMSE (p<0.05), but not tests of memory or fluid intelligence. These associations were not significantly altered by adjusting for WBV, WMH volume or PET evidence of cerebral β-amyloid deposition.

Conclusion In healthy older adults, gait speed is associated with processing speed and global cognition, but not with tests of non-verbal reasoning or memory. These associations were not accounted for by the measured cerebral pathologies. Further analyses incorporating region-specific and microstructural brain imaging are required.

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