Edinburgh Imaging

01 Mar 18. Lothian Birth Cohort

Scanning has started for the Lothian Birth Cohort (LBC 1936) Wave 5 .

The Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936 are follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947.

This survey had, tested the intelligence of almost every child born in 1936 and attending school in Scotland in June 1947. Re-testing people today, who had taken part in the Survey,  offers us a rare opportunity to examine the distribution and causes of cognitive ageing across most of the human life course.

Recent studies have been set up to study determinants of non-pathological cognitive ageing; i.e. the ageing of cognitive functions largely in the normal range, and not due to dementia or other pathologies.  Over the years participants have been invited back to undergo a series of thinking and memory tests, physical and medical assessments, questionnaires and MRI brain scans.

The MRI scanning, takes place at the Edinburgh Imaging Facility WGH, and is used to examine the structure and vascular changes of the brain and also uses a specialised  imaging technique called DTI to understand how changes in the brain’s white matter, its connectivity, correlating to age-related cognitive (thinking) decline in humans.  

A large image analysis team works on the data produced from the scans and carry out an array of analysis techniques to measure signs of ageing within the brain.  Comparison between the scans performed at different time points over a number of years has been carried out, allowing measurement of the changes to white matter integrity, brain lesions, mineral deposits and atrophy with age.

We are now in Wave 5 of testing and in addition to the previous tests and scans we are also taking a retinal photograph with the same kind of camera as opticians use. This will help us to examine how the health of the blood vessels in the eye relates to brain health and other important aspects of ageing.