Ageing and Dementia

In the Ageing and Dementia Group we use MRI to characterize the richness in structural and functional reorganization occurring in the aging brain in order to understanding functional decline as well as functional well-being in ageing populations.

For more then a decade the group has contributed to knowledge on structural as well as vascular changes on MRI with a particular interest in the impact of hemodynamic changes in the cerebral white matter. The group benefit from a close collaboration with the DRCMR Reader Center for the coordination and optimization of procedures for large-scale imaging handling as well as the MR Physics and analysis groups for the refinement and development of analysis. Our approach encompasses multi-center European EU-funded studies, large cohort and population-based projects, and intervention studies on healthy elderly as well as patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  

As part of the ADEX study initiated by the Memory Disorders Research Group Rigshospitalet MRI was performed before and after supervised aerobic exercise program. Collaborarting with the  Technical University of Denmark, and the Martinos Centre, Boston, Massachusetts on refining the pre-processing in Freesurfer our analysis suggest that the structural effect may depend on exercise load. In addition, analysis of ASL-data support that moderate to intense aerobic activity might counteract decline in cerebral perfusion. The impact of vascular degradation on brain structure and function was also investigated in healthy younger and older adults. In a collaboration with Concordia University, Montreal The results suggest that preservation of vessel elasticity may be one of the key mechanisms by which physical exercise helps to alleviate cognitive aging. A successful grant application support future collaborations. 

We recently concluded a large MRI-study including participants from the Danish Twin Registry.  In 380 woman we found no evidence of an association between with migraine with aura and white matter hyperintensities or silent infarcts. Continuing our contribution to the application of MR in cohort and population research the Live active healthy ageing (LISA) was initiated with Bispebjerg Hospital and Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen including 450 community-dwelling healthy individuals aged 62-70 years. Complementing physical and cognitive assessments performed at Bispebjerg Hospital annual MRI scans of the brain and thighs are performed at the DRCMR. In addition to effect of 1 year moderate and high intensity physical training we want to track individual late-life aging trajectories.  

The motivation behind our most recent project in collaboration with Department of Public Health and Center for Healthy Aging, is to understand the effect of early-life exposures and developmental aspects on age-related changes at midlife. We include 400 middle-aged individuals that participated in The Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort (CPC), the Prenatal Development Project (PDP) as well as the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) which provide detailed information on the life course and health status. Adding data from psychological assessment and high-resolution quantitative MR imaging techniques in late midlife to early lifespan trajectories generates a unique database and provide an insight into the neural substrate that underlie behavioral and cognitive function.

Associated Publications

Gaist D*, Garde E*, Blaabjerg M, Nielsen HH, Krøigård T, Østergaard K, Møller HS, Hjelmborg J, Madsen CG, Iversen P, Kyvik KO, Siebner HR, Ashina M.Migraine with aura and risk of silent brain infarcts and white matter hyperintensities: an MRI study. BRAIN. 2016 Jul;139(Pt 7):2015-23

Gauthier CJ, Lefort M, Mekary S, Desjardins-Crépeau L, Skimminge A, Iversen P, Madjar C, Desjardins M, Lesage F, Garde E, Frouin F, Bherer L, Hoge RD. Hearts and minds: linking vascular rigidity and aerobic fitness with cognitive aging. Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Jan;36(1):304-14

Anstey KJ, Sargent-Cox K, Garde E, Cherbuin N, Butterworth P. Cognitive development over 8 years in midlife and its association with cardiovascular risk factors.  Neuropsychology. 2014 Jul;28(4):653-65

News & Events

Group Members

Carl Johan Boraxbekk

Group Leader

Nina Linde Højland Reislev


Nayome Rey Calvo

PhD Student

Ellen Garde

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External Collaborators

Prof. Erik Lykke Mortensen

Department of Public Health, Copenhagen University

Prof. Michael Kjær

Department of Clinical Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, University of Copenhagen

Prof. Gunhild Waldemar

Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet 

Prof. Kaarin Anstey

Aging Research Unit, Australian National University in Canberra 

Ass. Prof. Claudine Gauthier

Concordia University Montreal, Canada