Age-related dopamine reductions have been suggested to contribute to maladaptive working memory (WM) function in older ages. One promising intervention approach is to increase physical activity, as this has been associated with plasticity of the striatal dopamine system and WM improvements, however with individual differences in efficacy. The present work focused on the impact of individual differences in white-matter lesion burden upon dopamine D2-like receptor (DRD2) availability and WM changes in response to a 6 months physical activity intervention. While the intervention altered striatal DRD2 availability and WM performance in individuals with no or only mild lesions (p < 0.05), no such effects were found in individuals with moderate-to-severe lesion severity (p > 0.05). Follow-up analyses revealed a similar pattern for processing speed, but not for episodic memory performance. Linear analyses further revealed that lesion volume (ml) at baseline was associated with reduced DRD2 availability (r = -0.41, p < 0.05), and level of DRD2 change (r = 0.40, p < 0.05). Taken together, this study underlines the necessity to consider cerebrovascular health in interventions with neurocognitive targets. Future work should assess whether these findings extend beyond measures of DRD2 availability and WM.
- Memory, Short-Term
- White Matter/diagnostic imaging