Structural architecture supports functional organization in the human aging brain at a regionwise and network level

Hum Brain Mapp. 2016 Jul;37(7):2645-61. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23200. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Functional interactions in the brain are constrained by the underlying anatomical architecture, and structural and functional networks share network features such as modularity. Accordingly, age-related changes of structural connectivity (SC) may be paralleled by changes in functional connectivity (FC). We provide a detailed qualitative and quantitative characterization of the SC-FC coupling in human aging as inferred from resting-state blood oxygen-level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion-weighted imaging in a sample of 47 adults with an age range of 18-82. We revealed that SC and FC decrease with age across most parts of the brain and there is a distinct age-dependency of regionwise SC-FC coupling and network-level SC-FC relations. A specific pattern of SC-FC coupling predicts age more reliably than does regionwise SC or FC alone (r = 0.73, 95% CI = [0.7093, 0.8522]). Hence, our data propose that regionwise SC-FC coupling can be used to characterize brain changes in aging. Hum Brain Mapp 37:2645-2661, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: aging; brain connectivity; function; resting-state network; structure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rest
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen