Long-term television viewing patterns and gray matter brain volume in midlife

Ryan J. Dougherty, Tina D. Hoang, Lenore J. Launer, David R. Jacobs, Stephen Sidney, Kristine Yaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether long-term television viewing patterns, a common sedentary behavior, in early to mid-adulthood is associated with gray matter brain volume in midlife and if this is independent of physical activity. We evaluated 599 participants (51% female, 44% black, mean age 30.3 ± 3.5 at baseline and 50.2 ± 3.5 years at follow-up and MRI) from the prospective Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. We assessed television patterns with repeated interviewer-administered questionnaire spanning 20 years. Structural MRI (3T) measures of frontal cortex, entorhinal cortex, hippocampal, and total gray matter volumes were assessed at midlife. Over the 20 years, participants reported viewing an average of 2.5 ± 1.7 h of television per day (range: 0–10 h). After multivariable adjustment, greater television viewing was negatively associated with gray matter volume in the frontal (β = − 0.77; p = 0.01) and entorhinal cortex (β = − 23.83; p = 0.05) as well as total gray matter (β = − 2.09; p = 0.003) but not hippocampus. These results remained unchanged after additional adjustment for physical activity. For each one standard deviation increase in television viewing, the difference in gray matter volume z-score was approximately 0.06 less for each of the three regions (p < 0.05). Among middle-aged adults, greater television viewing in early to mid-adulthood was associated with lower gray matter volume. Sedentariness or other facets of television viewing may be important for brain aging even in middle age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-644
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number2
Early online dateSep 6 2021
StatePublished - Sep 6 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) is supported by Contracts HHSN268201800003I, HHSN268201800004I, HHSN268201800005I, HHSN268201800006I, and HHSN268201800007I from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). CARDIA was also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005). Ryan J Dougherty was supported by an NIA training Grant (T32AG027668). Kristine Yaffe was supported in part by NIA Grants K24AG031155 and R01AG063887.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cohort studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Sitting time
  • Volumetric MRI

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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