Brain tissue mechanical properties, measured in vivo with magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), have proven to be sensitive metrics of neural tissue integrity. Recently, our group has reported on the positive relationship between viscoelasticity of the hippocampus and performance on a relational memory task in healthy young adults, which highlighted the potential of sensitive MRE measures for studying brain health and its relation to cognitive function; however, structure-function relationships outside of the hippocampus have not yet been explored. In this study, we examined the relationships between viscoelasticity of both the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex and performance on behavioral assessments of relational memory and fluid intelligence. In a sample of healthy, young adults (N = 53), there was a significant, positive relationship between orbitofrontal cortex viscoelasticity and fluid intelligence performance (r = 0.42; p = .002). This finding is consistent with the previously reported relationship between hippocampal viscoelasticity and relational memory performance (r = 0.41; p = .002). Further, a significant double dissociation between the orbitofrontal-fluid intelligence relationship and the hippocampal-relational memory relationship was observed. These data support the specificity of regional brain MRE measures in support of separable cognitive functions. This report of a structure-function relationship observed with MRE beyond the hippocampus suggests a future role for MRE as a sensitive neuroimaging technique for brain mapping.
Keywords: Fluid intelligence; Hippocampus; Magnetic resonance elastography; Orbitofrontal cortex; Relational memory.
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