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Cortical complexity as a measure of age-related brain atrophy

Madan, Christopher R.; Kensinger, Elizabeth A.

Cortical complexity as a measure of age-related brain atrophy Thumbnail


Elizabeth A. Kensinger


© 2016 Elsevier Inc. The structure of the human brain changes in a variety of ways as we age. While a sizeable literature has examined age-related differences in cortical thickness, and to a lesser degree, gyrification, here we examined differences in cortical complexity, as indexed by fractal dimensionality in a sample of over 400 individuals across the adult lifespan. While prior studies have shown differences in fractal dimensionality between patient populations and age-matched, healthy controls, it is unclear how well this measure would relate to age-related cortical atrophy. Initially computing a single measure for the entire cortical ribbon, i.e., unparcellated gray matter, we found fractal dimensionality to be more sensitive to age-related differences than either cortical thickness or gyrification index. We additionally observed regional differences in age-related atrophy between the three measures, suggesting that they may index distinct differences in cortical structure. We also provide a freely available MATLAB toolbox for calculating fractal dimensionality.


Madan, C. R., & Kensinger, E. A. (2016). Cortical complexity as a measure of age-related brain atrophy. NeuroImage, 134, 617-629.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 19, 2016
Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 15, 2018
Journal NeuroImage
Print ISSN 1053-8119
Electronic ISSN 1095-9572
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 134
Pages 617-629
Keywords cortical structure; fractal dimensionality; age; atrophy; cortical thickness; gyrification
Public URL
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