The goal of this project is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) and arterial spin labeling (ASL) to examine how cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects cognitive function and the measurement of brain function. CVD is associated with cognitive deficits;however, it is not understood how abnormal cardiac output associated with severe CVD leads to impaired cognitive function. There is increasing evidence that patients with severe CVD experience diminished cerebrovascular function, which ultimately affects cognitive performance. FMRI and ASL provide reliable methods to examine the intervening links between systemic vascular dysfunction and cognitive performance. The blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) FMRI response itself has been assumed to be constant across patient populations in previous research. Yet,there is evidence that the integrity of the BOLD response changes with vascular integrity. Studies have found that patients with CVD exhibit changes in the BOLD response;however, it remains to be determined if this observation is due to neural function, cerebrovascular perfusion, or both. There are two likely mechanisms to explain the relationship between systemic vascular dysfunction and observed reductions on measures of cognitive function: 1) chronic cerebrovascular dysfunction (e.g., hypoperfusion) secondary to severe CVD might cause neural changes and subsequently diminished cognitive function;2) since BOLD FMRI assesses the delivery of oxygen-rich blood in excess of demand, acute cerebral hypoperfusion might also directly attenuate the hemodynamic response measured by FMRI, independent of neuronal function. This potential decoupling of neural demands and observed BOLD response needs to be examined to address validity and reliability of FMRI among this population. We will directly examine these possibilities by assessing systemic cardiovascular function, cerebrovascular hemodynamic functions, and cognitive performance among 60 elderly patients with severe CVD and 30 age-matched controls. Cognitive measures were chosen because they have elicited performance and FMRI abnormalities among CVD patients in the past. Control paradigms will be administered to assess BOLD response itself. Groups will be contrasted on BOLD response to three levels of cognitive challenge: none (i.e., hypercapnia), matched (sensory and motor), and difficult cognitive paradigms. Further analyses will be conducted among the CVD group to quantify the contributions of blood perfusion. We predict that BOLD response will be diminished during all conditions among the CVD group, and that a significant portion of this reduction will be attributed vascular hypoperfusion. With rapidly growing clinical and experimental applications, it is important to demonstrate reliability and validity of FMRI in CVD. Findings are expected to provide data and methods that will increase the clinical utility of FMRI for the assessment of CVD patients, and a better understanding of the mechanisms causing cognitive impairment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Clinical Neuroscience and Disease Study Section (CND)
Program Officer
Desvigne-Nickens, Patrice
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Butler Hospital (Providence, RI)
United States
Zip Code
Liebel, Spencer W; Jones, Erin C; Oshri, Assaf et al. (2017) Cognitive processing speed mediates the effects of cardiovascular disease on executive functioning. Neuropsychology 31:44-51
Alosco, Michael L; Brickman, Adam M; Spitznagel, Mary Beth et al. (2016) Reduced Gray Matter Volume Is Associated With Poorer Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Performance in Heart Failure. J Cardiovasc Nurs 31:31-41
Alosco, Michael L; Spitznagel, Mary Beth; Strain, Gladys et al. (2015) Improved serum leptin and ghrelin following bariatric surgery predict better postoperative cognitive function. J Clin Neurol 11:48-56
Alosco, Michael L; Gunstad, John; Beard, Courtney et al. (2015) The synergistic effects of anxiety and cerebral hypoperfusion on cognitive dysfunction in older adults with cardiovascular disease. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 28:57-66
Daiello, Lori A; Gongvatana, Assawin; Dunsiger, Shira et al. (2015) Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function. Alzheimers Dement 11:226-35
Liebel, Spencer W; Clark, Uraina S; Xu, Xiaomeng et al. (2015) An FMRI-compatible Symbol Search task. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 21:231-8
Xu, Xiaomeng; Jerskey, Beth A; Cote, Denise M et al. (2014) Cerebrovascular perfusion among older adults is moderated by strength training and gender. Neurosci Lett 560:26-30
Philip, Noah S; Carpenter, S Louisa; Sweet, Lawrence H (2014) Developing neuroimaging phenotypes of the default mode network in PTSD: integrating the resting state, working memory, and structural connectivity. J Vis Exp :
Alosco, Michael L; Gunstad, John; Xu, Xiaomeng et al. (2014) The impact of hypertension on cerebral perfusion and cortical thickness in older adults. J Am Soc Hypertens 8:561-70
Alosco, Michael L; Spitznagel, Mary Beth; Cohen, Ronald et al. (2014) Better adherence to treatment recommendations in heart failure predicts improved cognitive function at a one-year follow-up. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 36:956-66

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications