Fornix microstructure and memory performance is associated with altered neural connectivity during episodic recognition

Ly M, Adluru N, Destiche DJ, Lu SY, Oh JM, Hoscheidt SM, Alexander AL, Okonkwo OC, Rowley HA, Sager MA, Johnson SC, Bendlin BB

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 2016 Feb;22(2):191-204.


The purpose of this study was to assess whether age-related differences in white matter microstructure are associated with altered task-related connectivity during episodic recognition.Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging from 282 cognitively healthy middle-to-late aged adults enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention, we investigated whether fractional anisotropy (FA) within white matter regions known to decline with age was associated with task-related connectivity within the recognition network.There was a positive relationship between fornix FA and memory performance, both of which negatively correlated with age. Psychophysiological interaction analyses revealed that higher fornix FA was associated with increased task-related connectivity amongst the hippocampus, caudate, precuneus, middle occipital gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus. In addition, better task performance was associated with increased task-related connectivity between the posterior cingulate gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, cuneus, and hippocampus.The findings indicate that age has a negative effect on white matter microstructure, which in turn has a negative impact on memory performance. However, fornix microstructure did not significantly mediate the effect of age on performance. Of interest, dynamic functional connectivity was associated with better memory performance. The results of the psychophysiological interaction analysis further revealed that alterations in fornix microstructure explain-at least in part-connectivity among cortical regions in the recognition memory network. Our results may further elucidate the relationship between structural connectivity, neural function, and cognition.


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