Perivascular spaces linked to worse cognition

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Enlarged perivascular spaces, which are commonly seen on brain MRIs in older adults, have important associations with worse cognitive performance, particularly information processing speed and executive function, according to a new study that challenges historical consideration that perivascular spaces are a harmless imaging marker.

Enlarged perivascular spaces are fluid-filled spaces around the cerebral small vessels seen on brain MRIs. In comparison to common markers of small vessel disease, results show a more frequent association between enlarged perivascular spaces and cognition than expected.

And, while some small vessel disease markers overlap in connection to cognition, these enlarged spaces appear to reflect unique pathways of injury that were distinct from the other markers.