Associations between neighborhood greenspace and brain imaging measures in non-demented older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study

Lilah M. Besser, Gina S. Lovasi, Yvonne L. Michael, Parveen Garg, Jana A. Hirsch, David Siscovick, Phil Hurvitz, Mary L. Biggs, James E. Galvin, Traci M. Bartz, W. T. Longstreth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Greater neighborhood greenspace has been associated with brain health, including better cognition and lower odds of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. We investigated associations between neighborhood greenspace and brain-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures and potential effect modification by sex or apolipoprotein E genotype (APOE), a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Methods: We obtained a sample of non-demented participants 65 years or older (n = 1125) from the longitudinal, population-based Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). Greenspace data were derived from the National Land Cover Dataset. Adjusted multivariable linear regression estimated associations between neighborhood greenspace five years prior to the MRI and left and right hippocampal volume and 10-point grades of ventricular size and burden of white matter hyperintensity. Interaction terms tested effect modification by APOE genotype and sex. CHS data (1989–1999) were obtained/analyzed in 2020. Results: Participants were on average 79 years old [standard deviation (SD) = 4], 58% were female, and 11% were non-white race. Mean neighborhood greenspace was 38% (SD = 28%). Greater proportion of greenspace in the neighborhood five years before MRI was borderline associated with lower ventricle grade (estimate: − 0.30; 95% confidence interval: − 0.61, 0.00). We observed no associations between greenspace and the other MRI outcome measures and no evidence of effect modification by APOE genotype and sex. Conclusion: This study suggests a possible association between greater greenspace and less ventricular enlargement, a measure reflecting global brain atrophy. If confirmed in other longitudinal cohort studies, interventions and policies to improve community greenspaces may help to maintain brain health in older age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1585
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Brain volume
  • Green space
  • Hippocampal
  • MRI
  • Neighborhood
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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