Brain age is becoming a widely applied imaging-based biomarker of neural aging and potential proxy for brain integrity and health. We estimated multimodal and modality-specific brain age in the Whitehall II MRI cohort using machine learning and imaging-derived measures of gray matter morphology, diffusion-based white matter microstructure, and resting state functional connectivity. Ten-fold cross validation yielded multimodal and modality-specific brain age estimates for each participant, and additional predictions based on a separate training sample was included for comparison. The results showed equivalent age prediction accuracy between the multimodal model and the gray and white matter models (R2 of 0.34, 0.31, and 0.31, respectively), while the functional connectivity model showed a lower prediction accuracy (R2 of 0.01). Cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, alcohol intake, and stroke risk score, were each associated with more apparent brain aging, with consistent associations across modalities.
Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory