People differ in their cognitive functioning. This variability has been exhaustively examined at the behavioral, neural and genetic level to uncover the mechanisms by which some individuals are more cognitively efficient than others. Studies investigating the neural underpinnings of interindividual differences in cognition aim to establish a reliable nexus between functional/structural properties of a given brain network and higher order cognitive performance. However, these studies have produced inconsistent results, which might be partly attributed to methodological variations. In the current study, 82 healthy young participants underwent MRI scanning and completed a comprehensive cognitive battery including measurements of fluid, crystallized, and spatial intelligence, along with working memory capacity/executive updating, controlled attention, and processing speed. The cognitive scores were obtained by confirmatory factor analyses. T1 -weighted images were processed using three different surface-based morphometry (SBM) pipelines, varying in their degree of user intervention, for obtaining measures of cortical thickness (CT) across the brain surface. Distribution and variability of CT and CT-cognition relationships were systematically compared across pipelines and between two cognitively/demographically matched samples to overcome potential sources of variability affecting the reproducibility of findings. We demonstrated that estimation of CT was not consistent across methods. In addition, among SBM methods, there was considerable variation in the spatial pattern of CT-cognition relationships. Finally, within each SBM method, results did not replicate in matched subsamples.
Keywords: cortical thickness; higher order cognition; surface-based methods.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.