Context & Background

Cerebrovascular disease is a major cause of cognitive impairment and dementia, either by itself or in combination with Alzheimer’s disease. This vascular contribution to cognitive decline is collectively referred to as vascular cognitive impairment (VCI).

Vascular lesion location is likely to be an important determinant of cognitive impact in VCI. Lesion-symptom mapping is an increasingly popular method in the VCI research field that can relate lesion location on brain imaging to cognitive performance. LSM studies have identified and established strategic lesion locations for acute infarcts and small vessel disease. Yet LSM studies are hampered by incomplete lesion coverage of the brain. LSM studies thus far have been performed using monocenter cohorts, with study samples varying from <100 to 400. Even with several hundred subjects, a substantial part of the brain is not damaged in a sufficient number of patients to allow for inclusion in LSM analyses. This means that the cognitive impact of these potential lesion locations remains unexplored. Thus even larger cohorts are evidently needed to provide coverage in more rarely affected brain regions.


The META VCI MAP consortium aims to overcome this issue by performing Meta-analyses on strategic lesion locations for Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) using lesion-symptom Mapping. META VCI MAP provides an international collaborative platform for image analysis and data sharing, which will facilitate the integration of multicenter data for the purpose of LSM projects. By integrating existing datasets with imaging data on vascular lesions and cognitive data, LSM studies can be performed on larger study samples to improve brain lesion coverage.

META VCI MAP has two key objectives:

  • to create vulnerability maps of the brain that show where vascular lesions have the most impact on cognition. Such vulnerability maps would be of diagnostic and prognostic value, and could help explain why some patients with vascular lesions develop VCI while others do not.
  • to further establish strategic lesion locations that lead to impairment of specific cognitive functions. Where previous studies could only study the role of particular brain areas, we aim to take all possible lesion locations into account.