Study on brain ageing and related interindividual variability

General depiction of 1000BRAINS

Not one brain equals another: There are differences in location, size and extent of brain areas and in the interplay between different brain regions. Additionally, the brain is subject to changes across the whole lifespan. The amount of such changes varies considerably between subjects. Therefore in this study, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers from the institutes INM-1, INM-2, INM-4 and INM-8 of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM) of the Research Centre Jülich in cooperation with the University Duisburg-Essen investigate the process of normal brain ageing in a group of 1000 subjects of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. Goal of this study is to assess characteristic changes in structure and function of the brain due to ageing and to distinguish them from disease-related influences.

Assessment and goals of 1000BRAINS

Within the scope of 1000BRAINS, conducted at the Research Centre Jülich, structure and function of the brain of 1000 subjects are extensively examined, starting in September 2011. This will allow understanding of the interplay of different brain regions and related changes thereof due to the normal process of ageing.

Structure and function of the brain are assessed using magnetic resonance imaging as well as additional tests, which focus not only on cognitive functions such as memory or attention, but particularly on the examination of the motor functions of the subjects. Additionally, relevant factors such as life satisfaction or personality are acquired. A major advantage of these assessments is provided by the possibility to not only use data from Jülich but also from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study for any evaluation of scientific research questions. This allows for the first time studying the variability of brain ageing in relation to long-run data (from up to 10 years back) on living conditions, social and genetic factors as well as health conditions of the subjects. These analyses are supplemented by investigations on the normative aspects and ethical implications at the trade-off between normal and pathological ageing. Overall, 1000BRAINS will provide insights into the variability of normal ageing of the brain as well as markers for early changes caused by different disesases.

Recruitment of subjects from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study

Subjects of 1000BRAINS are participants of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based epidemiologic study on cardiovascular diseases. In this study, citizens of three cities (Bochum, Essen, Mühlheim) in the Ruhr area in West Germany are repeatedly examined since 2000.

The study sample encompasses 4,814 participants who are now 55 to 85 years of age. They fill in a questionnaire on their personal situation annually and are examined in the study centre in Essen every five years. The aim of these examinations is to reveal how different influencing factors – such as genetic predisposition, psychosocial surroundings, environment, or the “metabolic syndrome”, a combined dysfunction of blood pressure and fat metabolism – affect the occurrence and the course of cardiovascular diseases.


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Last Modified: 03.11.2022