Nikhil N. Chaudhari, University of Southern California
Phoebe E. Imms, University of Southern California
Nathan F. Chowdhury, University of Southern California
Margaret Gatz, University of Southern California
Benjamin Trumble, Arizona State University
Wendy J. Mack, University of Southern California
E. Meng Law, Monash University
M. Linda Sutherland, MemorialCare Health Systems
James D. Sutherland, MemorialCare Health Systems
Christopher J. Rowan, Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health
L. Samuel Wann, University of New Mexico
Adel H. Allam, Al-Azhar University
Randall C. Thompson, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute
David E. Michalik, University of California, Irvine
Michael I. Miyamoto, Mission Heritage Medical Group
Guido Lombardi, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Daniel Cummings, University of New Mexico
Edmond Seabright, University of New Mexico
Sarah Alami, University of New Mexico
Angela R. Garcia, Arizona State University
Daniel E. Rodriguez, San Simon University
Raul Quispe Gutierrez, Tsimane Health and Life History Project
Adrian J. Copajira, Tsimane Health and Life History Project
Paul L. Hooper, Chapman UniversityFollow
Kenneth Buetow, Arizona State University
Jonathan Stieglitz, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
Michael D. Gurven, University of California, Santa Barbara
Gregory S. Thomas, University of California, Irvine
Hillard Kaplan, Chapman UniversityFollow
Caleb E. Finch, University of Southern California
Andrei Irimia, University of Southern California

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Industrialized environments, despite benefits such as higher levels of formal education and lower rates of infections, can also have pernicious impacts upon brain atrophy. Partly for this reason, comparing age-related brain volume trajectories between industrialized and non-industrialized populations can help to suggest lifestyle correlates of brain health. The Tsimane, indigenous to the Bolivian Amazon, derive their subsistence from foraging and horticulture and are physically active. The Moseten, a mixed-ethnicity farming population, are physically active but less than the Tsimane. Within both populations (N = 1024; age range = 46–83), we calculated regional brain volumes from computed tomography and compared their cross-sectional trends with age to those of UK Biobank (UKBB) participants (N = 19,973; same age range). Surprisingly among Tsimane and Moseten (T/M) males, some parietal and occipital structures mediating visuospatial abilities exhibit small but significant increases in regional volume with age. UKBB males exhibit a steeper negative trend of regional volume with age in frontal and temporal structures compared to T/M males. However, T/M females exhibit significantly steeper rates of brain volume decrease with age compared to UKBB females, particularly for some cerebro-cortical structures (e.g., left subparietal cortex). Across the three populations, observed trends exhibit no interhemispheric asymmetry. In conclusion, the age-related rate of regional brain volume change may differ by lifestyle and sex. The lack of brain volume reduction with age is not known to exist in other human population, highlighting the putative role of lifestyle in constraining regional brain atrophy and promoting elements of non-industrialized lifestyle like higher physical activity.


This article was originally published in GeroScience in 2024.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.