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BACKGROUND: People with Down's syndrome (DS) are at high risk for developing dementia in middle age. The biological basis for this is unknown. It has been proposed that non-demented adults with DS may undergo accelerated brain ageing. METHOD: We used volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and manual tracing to compare brain anatomy and ageing in 39 non-demented adults with DS and 42 healthy controls. RESULTS: Individuals with DS had significant differences in brain anatomy. Furthermore, individuals with DS had a significantly greater age-related reduction in volume of frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, and a significantly greater age-related increase in volume of peripheral cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CONCLUSIONS: Non-demented adults with DS have differences in brain anatomy and 'accelerated' ageing of some brain regions. This may increase their risk for age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





611 - 619


Adult, Aged, Aging, Brain, Cognition Disorders, Down Syndrome, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Severity of Illness Index, Young Adult