• Focal periventricular white-matter changes (leukoaraiosis) have been identified incidentally on brain imaging in normal healthy individuals and more commonly in the elderly and in hypertensive individuals. It has been suggested that leukoaraiosis represents the early stages of Binswanger's leukoencephalopathy, a dementing process thought to be related to hypertensive cerebrovascular disease. To test this hypothesis, extensive neuropsychological tests were administered to 50 consecutive normotensive, middleaged, healthy volunteers. Ten subjects (20%) had white-matter changes on magnetic resonance scans; 40 subjects (80%) had normal scans. The differences observed on neuropsychological testing between subjects with and without leukoaraiosis were not significant. While this study argues against a link between leukoaraiosis and dementia, prospective longitudinal studies are needed to determine the value of leukoaraiosis in predicting future cognitive decline.
Rao SM, Mittenberg W, Bernardin L, Haughton V, Leo GJ. Neuropsychological Test Findings in Subjects With Leukoaraiosis. Arch Neurol. 1989;46(1):40-44. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520370042017