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Journal Article

Structural and functional connectivity in healthy aging: Associations for cognition and motor behavior

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Hirsiger, S., Koppelmans, V., Merillat, S., Liem, F., Erdeniz, B., Seidler, R. D., et al. (2016). Structural and functional connectivity in healthy aging: Associations for cognition and motor behavior. Human Brain Mapping, 37(3), 855-867. doi:10.1002/hbm.23067.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-7832-2
Age-related behavioral declines may be the result of deterioration of white matter tracts, affecting brain structural (SC) and functional connectivity (FC) during resting state. To date, it is not clear if the combination of SC and FC data could better predict cognitive/motor performance than each measure separately. We probed these relationships in the cingulum bundle, a major white matter pathway of the default mode network. We aimed to attain deeper knowledge about: (a) the relationship between age and the cingulum's SC and FC strength, (b) the association between SC and FC, and particularly (c) how the cingulum's SC and FC are related to cognitive/motor performance separately and combined. We examined these associations in a healthy and well-educated sample of 165 older participants (aged 64-85). SC and FC were acquired using probabilistic tractography to derive measures to capture white matter integrity within the cingulum bundle (fractional anisotropy, mean, axial and radial diffusivity) and a seed-based resting-state functional MRI correlation approach, respectively. Participants performed cognitive tests measuring processing speed, memory and executive functions, and motor tests measuring motor speed and grip force. Our data revealed that only SC but not resting state FC was significantly associated with age. Further, the cingulum's SC and FC showed no relation. Different relationships between cognitive/motor performance and SC/FC separately were found, but no additive effect of the combined analysis of cingulum's SC and FC for predicting cognitive/motor performance was apparent.