Structural covariability hubs in old age

Neuroimage. 2019 Apr 1;189:307-315. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.01.032. Epub 2019 Jan 19.


Studies have shown that inter-individual differences in grey matter, as measured by voxel-based morphometry, are coordinated between voxels. This has been done by studying covariance maps based on a limited number of seed regions. Here, we used GPU-based (Graphics Processing Unit) accelerated computing to calculate, for the first time, the aggregated map of the total structural topographical organisation in the brain on voxel level in a large sample of 960 healthy individuals in the age range 68-83 years. This map describes for each voxel the number of significant correlations with all other grey matter voxels in the brain. Voxels that correlate significantly with many other voxels are called hubs. A majority of these hubs were found in the basal ganglia, the thalamus, the brainstem, and the cerebellum; subcortical regions that have been preserved through vertebrate evolution, interact with large portions of the neocortex and play fundamental roles for the control of a wide range of behaviours. No significant difference in the level of covariability could be found with increasing age or between men and women in these hubs.

Keywords: Exaptation; Grey matter; Structural covariance; Voxel-based morphometry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Stem / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / anatomy & histology*
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neocortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Neocortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging