Short-term mechanisms influencing volumetric brain dynamics

Nikki Dieleman*, Huiberdina L. Koek, Jeroen Hendrikse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


With the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and brain analysis tools, it has become possible to measure brain volume changes up to around 0.5%. Besides long-term brain changes caused by atrophy in aging or neurodegenerative disease, short-term mechanisms that influence brain volume may exist. When we focus on short-term changes of the brain, changes may be either physiological or pathological. As such determining the cause of volumetric dynamics of the brain is essential. Additionally for an accurate interpretation of longitudinal brain volume measures by means of neurodegeneration, knowledge about the short-term changes is needed. Therefore, in this review, we discuss the possible mechanisms influencing brain volumes on a short-term basis and set-out a framework of MRI techniques to be used for volumetric changes as well as the used analysis tools. 3D T1-weighted images are the images of choice when it comes to MRI of brain volume. These images are excellent to determine brain volume and can be used together with an analysis tool to determine the degree of volume change. Mechanisms that decrease global brain volume are: fluid restriction, evening MRI measurements, corticosteroids, antipsychotics and short-term effects of pathological processes like Alzheimer's disease, hypertension and Diabetes mellitus type II. Mechanisms increasing the brain volume include fluid intake, morning MRI measurements, surgical revascularization and probably medications like anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-hypertensive medication. Exercise was found to have no effect on brain volume on a short-term basis, which may imply that dehydration caused by exercise differs from dehydration by fluid restriction. In the upcoming years, attention should be directed towards studies investigating physiological short-term changes within the light of long-term pathological changes. Ultimately this may lead to a better understanding of the physiological short-term effects of pathological processes and may aid in early detection of these diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroimage: Clinical [E]
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Brain volume
  • Dehydration
  • FSL
  • Magnetic resonance imaging


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