Age-related decreases in cognitive function, cerebral perfusion, and vascular function increase the risk of dementia. However, the effects of central artery stiffness on cerebral oxygenation hemodynamics during executive function tasks and executive function remain unclear. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the relationships among central artery stiffness, cerebral oxygenation hemodynamics during executive function tasks, and executive function in middle-aged and older adults. Sixty-two middle-aged and older adults (age range: 51–79 years) were recruited for this study. For each participant, we measured the carotid artery β-stiffness, oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) signal change in the prefrontal cortex during the Stroop task, and Stroop interference time. Correlation analyses revealed that the carotid artery β-stiffness was significantly correlated with the Stroop interference time (r = 0.43, P < 0.001) and with the oxy-Hb signal change in the left (r = −0.38, P = 0.002), but not the right, prefrontal cortex. In addition, the Stroop interference time was significantly correlated with the oxy-Hb signal change in the left (r = −0.42, P = 0.001), but not the right, prefrontal cortex. The participants were divided into the low and high arterial stiffness groups according to the median value. We found that the Stroop interference time was significantly shorter (P = 0.006) and the oxy-Hb signal change in the left prefrontal cortex was significantly larger in the low arterial stiffness group than in the high arterial stiffness group (P = 0.011). In the low, but not the high, arterial stiffness group, the oxy-Hb signal change of the left prefrontal cortex during executive function tasks was significantly larger than the oxy-Hb signal change of the right prefrontal cortex (P = 0.014). These results suggest that increases in central artery stiffness are associated with decreases in oxygenation hemodynamics in the left prefrontal cortex during executive function tasks and reductions in executive function.
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