Mapping of Structure-Function Age-Related Connectivity Changes on Cognition Using Multimodal MRI

Front Aging Neurosci. 2022 May 18:14:757861. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.757861. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

The relationship between age-related changes in brain structural connectivity (SC) and functional connectivity (FC) with cognition is not well understood. Furthermore, it is not clear whether cognition is represented via a similar spatial pattern of FC and SC or instead is mapped by distinct sets of distributed connectivity patterns. To this end, we used a longitudinal, within-subject, multimodal approach aiming to combine brain data from diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI), and functional MRI (fMRI) with behavioral evaluation, to better understand how changes in FC and SC correlate with changes in cognition in a sample of older adults. FC and SC measures were derived from the multimodal scans acquired at two time points. Change in FC and SC was correlated with 13 behavioral measures of cognitive function using Partial Least Squares Correlation (PLSC). Two of the measures indicate an age-related change in cognition and the rest indicate baseline cognitive performance. FC and SC-cognition correlations were expressed across several cognitive measures, and numerous structural and functional cortical connections, mainly cingulo-opercular, dorsolateral prefrontal, somatosensory and motor, and temporo-parieto-occipital, contributed both positively and negatively to the brain-behavior relationship. Whole-brain FC and SC captured distinct and independent connections related to the cognitive measures. Overall, we examined age-related function-structure associations of the brain in a comprehensive and integrated manner, using a multimodal approach. We pointed out the behavioral relevance of age-related changes in FC and SC. Taken together, our results highlight that the heterogeneity in distributed FC and SC connectivity patterns provide unique information about the variable nature of healthy cognitive aging.

Keywords: fMRI; functional connectivity; healthy aging; neuroimaging; structural connectivity; structure-function coupling; variability.