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The biological age of the brain differs from its chronological age (CA) and can be used as biomarker of neural/cognitive disease processes and as predictor of mortality. Brain age (BA) is often estimated from magnetic resonance images (MRIs) using machine learning (ML) that rarely indicates how regional brain features contribute to BA. Leveraging an aggregate training sample of 3 418 healthy controls (HCs), we describe a ridge regression model that quantifies each region's contribution to BA. After model testing on an independent sample of 651 HCs, we compute the coefficient of partial determination R¯p2 for each regional brain volume to quantify its contribution to BA. Model performance is also evaluated using the correlation r between chronological and biological ages, the mean absolute error (MAE ) and mean squared error (MSE) of BA estimates. On training data, r=0.92, MSE=70.94 years, MAE=6.57 years, and R¯2=0.81; on test data, r=0.90, MSE=81.96 years, MAE=7.00 years, and R¯2=0.79. The regions whose volumes contribute most to BA are the nucleus accumbens (R¯p2=7.27%), inferior temporal gyrus (R¯p2=4.03%), thalamus (R¯p2=3.61%), brainstem (R¯p2=3.29%), posterior lateral sulcus (R¯p2=3.22%), caudate nucleus (R¯p2=3.05%), orbital gyrus (R¯p2=2.96%), and precentral gyrus (R¯p2=2.80%). Our ridge regression, although outperformed by the most sophisticated ML approaches, identifies the importance and relative contribution of each brain structure to overall BA. Aside from its interpretability and quasi-mechanistic insights, our model can be used to validate future ML approaches for BA estimation. © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Roy J Massett, Alexander S Maher, Phoebe E Imms, Anar Amgalan, Nikhil N Chaudhari, Nahian F Chowdhury, Andrei Irimia, Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Regional Neuroanatomic Effects on Brain Age Inferred Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Ridge Regression. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2023 Jun 01;78(6):872-881

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PMID: 36183259

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