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Associations between gait speed and brain structure in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: a quantitative neuroimaging study

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Patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) present gait disturbances including slower speed and higher variability when compared to cognitively healthy individuals (CHI). Brain neuroimaging could explore higher levels of motor control. Our purpose was to look for an association between morphometrics and gait parameters in each group. We hypothesized that the relation between morphological cerebral alteration and gait speed are different following the group.


Fifty-three participants (30 with aMCI and 23 CHI) were recruited in this French cross-sectional study (mean 72 ± 5 years, 38% female). Gait speed and gait variability (coefficients of variation of stride time (STV) and stride length (SLV)) were measured using GAITrite® system. CAT12 software was used to analyse volume and surface morphometry like gray matter volume (GMV) and cortical thickness (CT). Age, gender and education level were used as potential cofounders.


aMCI had slower gait speed and higher STV when compared to CHI. In aMCI the full adjusted linear regression model showed that lower gait speed was associated with decreased GMV and lower CT in bilateral superior temporal gyri (p < 0.36). In CHI, no association was found between gait speed and brain structure. Higher SLV was correlated with reduced GMV in spread regions (p < 0.05) and thinner cortex in the middle right frontal gyrus (p = 0.001) in aMCI. In CHI, higher SLV was associated with reduced GMV in 1 cluster: the left lingual (p = 0.041).


These findings indicate that lower gait speed is associated with specific brain structural changes as reduced GMV and CT during aMCI.

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The research was supported by the University hospital of Angers, France (eudract number 2014 – A01593 – 44). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

The study was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards set forth in the Helsinki Declaration (1983). The entire study protocol was approved by the Angers Ethical Review Committee (Comité de protection des personnes, CPP ouest II, Angers, France, n° A.C D 2014-A01593-44, n° CPP: 2014/32). Written informed consent was obtained at enrolment.

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Conceptualization; Data curation; MD and CA.

Methodology and writing: PA and MD.

Supervision: PP, CA and MD.

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Correspondence to Pauline Ali.

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C. Annweiler serves as an editor for Maturitas. All authors declare they do not have any other financial and personal conflicts of interest with this manuscript.

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Ali, P., Labriffe, M., Paisant, P. et al. Associations between gait speed and brain structure in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: a quantitative neuroimaging study. Brain Imaging and Behavior 16, 228–238 (2022).

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