Research Topic

Modifiable Risk Factors of Accelerated Brain Aging and Dementia

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About this Research Topic

Dementia is an evolving humanitarian challenge with growing numbers due to population aging. Currently, there is no effective treatment in sight, let alone cure. In the past decade, a range of modifiable risk factors of dementia have been identified which are promising targets to promote healthy cognitive ...

Dementia is an evolving humanitarian challenge with growing numbers due to population aging. Currently, there is no effective treatment in sight, let alone cure. In the past decade, a range of modifiable risk factors of dementia have been identified which are promising targets to promote healthy cognitive aging and to delay or even prevent dementia. According to latest estimations, low educational attainment, physical inactivity, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, alcohol, obesity, smoking, depression, social isolation, diabetes, and air pollution could account for 40% of all dementia cases in high-income countries and at least 50% in low- and middle-income countries.

Yet, despite our growing knowledge about the effects of single risk factors on the brain’s structure and function, we still lack a thorough understanding of the relative importance of different cardiovascular and lifestyle factors, their interaction with genetic and societal factors and the underlying mechanisms. For example, different aspects of the socioeconomic status are strongly associated with dementia incidence, but it is unclear which mechanisms are at play, and how they could be best tackled. Given the high incidence of dementia in low- and middle-income countries, we also need to better understand the importance of different modifiable risk factors in these societies.

In this Research Topic, we would like to welcome original research, reviews and opinion papers from diverse fields such as population neuroimaging, cognitive aging, medical sociology, public health, epidemiology and related disciplines covering the following topics:

• The impact of modifiable risk factors (including but not limited to education, socioeconomic status, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, physical inactivity, hearing loss, social isolation, air pollution) on brain structure, function, cognition and dementia risk in aging humans, assessed in observational studies and interventional trials

• The interaction of genetic background and modifiable risk factors in different populations and with respect to sex

• Gender-specific analysis of the impact of modifiable risk factors on brain structure, function, cognition and dementia risk

• The role of different modifiable risk factors for brain structure and function, cognition and dementia incidence/prevalence in countries where these relationships have been rarely studied, especially low and middle-income countries

• The relationship of social determinants and modifiable risk factors with regards to brain structure, function, cognition and dementia risk

• New and emerging modifiable risk factors of cognitive decline and dementia


Keywords: Brain aging, modifiable risk factors, cardiovascular risk, dementia, neuroimaging


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