European Radiology

, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp 513–519 | Cite as

Contrast between white and grey matter: MRI appearance with ageing

  • S. Magnaldi
  • M. Ukmar
  • A. Vasciaveo
  • R. Longo
  • R. S. Pozzi-Mucelli
Original Articles Neuroradiology


MRI contrast between white and grey matter appears to be higher in young normal subjects than in older patients. The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible relationships between these changes in contrast and ageing. It consisted of two parts. In the first part we retrospectively evaluated 140 MRI brain examinations of healthy subjects, 20 per decade (age range 20–90 years), in whom the contrast was subjectively scored. In the second part we prospectively measured the actual T1, spin density (SD) and T2 values of white and grey matter in another 22 healthy subjects (age range 20–80 years). In the first group of subjects a progressive decrease in white/grey matter contrast was observed with ageing. In the second group of subjects the T1, SD and T2 values of white matter were always shorter than those of grey matter. There is a close relation among T1, SD and T2 values of white and grey matter with ageing. We suggest that there is a progressive loss of white/grey matter contrast with ageing. Such a phenomenon is possibly due to an increased water content in the white matter and the progressive neuronal loss in the grey matter that occurs with age.

Key words

Ageing Brain, MRI studies Magnetic resonance imaging 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Magnaldi
    • 1
  • M. Ukmar
    • 1
  • A. Vasciaveo
    • 1
  • R. Longo
    • 1
  • R. S. Pozzi-Mucelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity Hospital of TriesteTriesteItaly

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