Relating education, the brain structure and cognition: the role of cardiovascular disease risk factors




Mortby, Moyra Elizabeth
Janke, Andrew L.
Sachdev, Perminder S.
Cherbuin, Nicolas
Burns, Richard
Anstey, Kaarin

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Hindawi Publishing Corporation


The protective effect of education on cognitive and brain health is well established. While the direct effects of individual cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (i.e., hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and obesity) on cerebral structure have been investigated, little is understood about the possible interaction between the protective effect of education and the deleterious effects of CVD risk factors in predicting brain ageing and cognition. Using data from the PATH Through Life study (𝑁 = 266), we investigated the protective effect of education on cerebral structure and function and tested a possible mediating role of CVD risk factors. Higher education was associated with larger regional grey/white matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex in men only. The association between education and cognition was mediated by brain volumes but only for grey matter and only in relation to information processing speed. CVD risk factors did not mediate the association between regional volumes and cognition.This study provides additional evidence in support for a protective effect of education on cerebral structures and cognition. However, it does not provide support for a mediating role of CVD risk factors in these associations.



education, cardiovascular disease risk factors, brain volume, cognition



BioMed Research International 2014, Article ID 271487


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