Financial literacy is associated with white matter integrity in old age

Neuroimage. 2016 Apr 15;130:223-229. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.030. Epub 2016 Feb 17.

Abstract

Financial literacy, the ability to understand, access, and utilize information in ways that contribute to optimal financial outcomes, is important for independence and wellbeing in old age. We previously reported that financial literacy is associated with greater functional connectivity between brain regions in old age. Here, we tested the hypothesis that higher financial literacy would be associated with greater white matter integrity in old age. Participants included 346 persons without dementia (mean age=81.36, mean education=15.39, male/female=79/267, mean MMSE=28.52) from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Financial literacy was assessed using a series of questions imbedded as part of an ongoing decision making study. White matter integrity was assessed with diffusion anisotropy measured with diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI). We tested the hypothesis that higher financial literacy is associated with higher diffusion anisotropy in white matter, adjusting for the effects of age, education, sex, and white matter hyperintense lesions. We then repeated the analysis also adjusting for cognitive function. Analyses revealed regions with significant positive associations between financial literacy and diffusion anisotropy, and many remained significant after accounting for cognitive function. White matter tracts connecting right hemisphere temporal-parietal brain regions were particularly implicated. Greater financial literacy is associated with higher diffusion anisotropy in white matter of nondemented older adults after adjusting for important covariates. These results suggest that financial literacy is positively associated with white matter integrity in old age.

Keywords: DTI; Diffusion anisotropy; Diffusion tensor imaging; Financial literacy; Fractional anisotropy; White matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Comprehension* / physiology
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Intelligence* / physiology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • White Matter / pathology*