Cortical thickness and its associations with age, total cognition and education across the adult lifespan.
ABSTRACT: Early-life education (years of schooling) has been investigated in regards to cognition, health outcomes and mortality. It has been shown to confer cognitive reserve that might lessen the impact of brain pathology and its impact on cognitive and motor functioning in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases and, for instance, to influence electrical activity [Begum, T., Reza, F., Ahmed, I., & Abdullah, J. M. (2014). Influence of education level on design-induced N170 and P300 components of event related potentials in the human brain. J Integr Neurosci, 13(1), 71-88. doi:10.1142/S0219635214500058]. On the other hand, demonstrations of a direct association between education and brain-structural measures have been more equivocal and scant. The current study sought to identify univariate cortical-thickness patterns underlying education and general intelligence after adjusting for age, gender and possible in-scanner movement in 353 individuals aged 40 to 80. We followed up this idea with multivariate analyses as well. For univariate analyses, our analyses yielded no robust associations between education and general intelligence beyond confounding effects of gender, age and extraneous in-scanner movement. A subsequent multivariate analyses showed a relationship between education and regional cortical thickness with a robust pattern of negative as well as positive loadings in several right-sided brain areas, speaking to a subtle but robust distributed effect of education on cortical thickness. Cortical thickness variance that is the residual of this education-related pattern was shown to be positively associated with age and extraneous in-scanner movement. Our study thus presents a complex picture of the association of education with regional cortical thickness: education was associated with a distributed brain-wide pattern of positive as well as negative loadings with unaccounted residuals being larger for older participants. Focal regional associations beyond demographic and age covariates were not identified.
Project description:Regional cortical brain volume is the product of surface area and thickness. These measures exhibit partially distinct trajectories of change across the brain's cortex in older age, but it is unclear which cortical characteristics at which loci are sensitive to cognitive ageing differences. We examine associations between change in intelligence from age 11 to 73 years and regional cortical volume, surface area, and thickness measured at age 73 years in 568 community-dwelling older adults, all born in 1936. A relative positive change in intelligence from 11 to 73 was associated with larger volume and surface area in selective frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions (r < 0.180, FDR-corrected q < 0.05). There were no significant associations between cognitive ageing and a thinner cortex for any region. Interestingly, thickness and surface area were phenotypically independent across bilateral lateral temporal loci, whose surface area was significantly related to change in intelligence. These findings suggest that associations between regional cortical volume and cognitive ageing differences are predominantly driven by surface area rather than thickness among healthy older adults. Regional brain surface area has been relatively underexplored, and is a potentially informative biomarker for identifying determinants of cognitive ageing differences.
Project description:To investigate how associations between education and brain structure in older age were affected by adjusting for IQ measured at age 11.We analyzed years of full-time education and measures from an MRI brain scan at age 73 in 617 community-dwelling adults born in 1936. In addition to average and vertex-wise cortical thickness, we measured total brain atrophy and white matter tract fractional anisotropy. Associations between brain structure and education were tested, covarying for sex and vascular health; a second model also covaried for age 11 IQ.The significant relationship between education and average cortical thickness (? = 0.124, p = 0.004) was reduced by 23% when age 11 IQ was included (? = 0.096, p = 0.041). Initial associations between longer education and greater vertex-wise cortical thickness were significant in bilateral temporal, medial-frontal, parietal, sensory, and motor cortices. Accounting for childhood intelligence reduced the number of significant vertices by >90%; only bilateral anterior temporal associations remained. Neither education nor age 11 IQ was significantly associated with total brain atrophy or tract-averaged fractional anisotropy.The association between years of education and brain structure ?60 years later was restricted to cortical thickness in this sample; however, the previously reported associations between longer education and a thicker cortex are likely to be overestimates in terms of both magnitude and distribution. This finding has implications for understanding, and possibly ameliorating, life-course brain health.
Project description:In normal humans, relationships between cognitive test performance and cortical structure have received little study, in part, because of the paucity of tools for measuring cortical structure. Computational morphometric methods have recently been developed that enable the measurement of cortical thickness from MRI data, but little data exist on their reliability. We undertook this study to evaluate the reliability of an automated cortical thickness measurement method to detect correlates of interest between thickness and cognitive task performance. Fifteen healthy older participants were scanned four times at 2-week intervals on three different scanner platforms. The four MRI data sets were initially treated independently to investigate the reliability of the spatial localization of findings from exploratory whole-cortex analyses of cortical thickness-cognitive performance correlates. Next, the first data set was used to define cortical ROIs based on the exploratory results that were then applied to the remaining three data sets to determine whether the relationships between cognitive performance and regional cortical thickness were comparable across different scanner platforms and field strengths. Verbal memory performance was associated with medial temporal cortical thickness, while visuomotor speed/set shifting was associated with lateral parietal cortical thickness. These effects were highly reliable - in terms of both spatial localization and magnitude of absolute cortical thickness measurements - across the four scan sessions. Brain-behavior relationships between regional cortical thickness and cognitive task performance can be reliably identified using an automated data analysis system, suggesting that these measures may be useful as imaging biomarkers of disease or performance ability in multicenter studies in which MRI data are pooled.
Project description:Prior studies on healthy children have demonstrated regional variations and a complex and dynamic relationship between intelligence and cerebral tissue. Yet, there is little information regarding the neuroanatomical correlates of general intelligence in children with epilepsy compared to healthy controls. In vivo imaging techniques, combined with methods for advanced image processing and analysis, offer the potential to examine quantitative mapping of brain development and its abnormalities in childhood epilepsy. A surface-based, computational high resolution 3-D magnetic resonance image analytic technique was used to compare the relationship of cortical thickness with age and intelligence quotient (IQ) in 65 children and adolescents with complex partial seizures (CPS) and 58 healthy controls, aged 6-18 years. Children were grouped according to health status (epilepsy; controls) and IQ level (average and above; below average) and compared on age-related patterns of cortical thickness. Our cross-sectional findings suggest that disruption in normal age-related cortical thickness expression is associated with intelligence in pediatric CPS patients both with average and below average IQ scores.
Project description:Brain structural morphology differs with age. This study examined age-differences in surface-based morphometric measures of cortical thickness, volume, and surface area in a well-defined sample of 8137 generally healthy UK Biobank participants aged 45-79 years. We illustrate that the complexity of age-related brain morphological differences may be related to the laminar organization and regional evolutionary history of the cortex, and age of about 60 is a break point for increasing negative associations between age and brain morphology in Alzheimer's disease (AD)-prone areas. We also report novel relationships of age-related cortical differences with individual factors of sex, cognitive functions of fluid intelligence, reaction time and prospective memory, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep disruption, genetic markers of apolipoprotein E, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, catechol-O-methyltransferase, and several genome-wide association study loci for AD and further reveal joint effects of cognitive functions, lifestyle behaviors, and education on age-related cortical differences. These findings provide one of the most extensive characterizations of age associations with major brain morphological measures and improve our understanding of normal structural brain aging and its potential modifiers.
Project description:Cognitive abilities are related to (changes in) brain structure during adolescence and adulthood. Previous studies suggest that associations between cortical thickness and intelligence may be different at different ages. As both intelligence and cortical thickness are heritable traits, the question arises whether the association between cortical thickness development and intelligence is due to genes influencing both traits. We study this association in a longitudinal sample of young twins. Intelligence was assessed by standard IQ tests at age 9 in 224 twins, 190 of whom also underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Three years later at age 12, 177/125 twins returned for a follow-up measurement of intelligence/MRI scanning, respectively. We investigated whether cortical thickness was associated with intelligence and if so, whether this association was driven by genes. At age 9, there were no associations between cortical thickness and intelligence. At age 12, a negative relationship emerged. This association was mainly driven by verbal intelligence, and manifested itself most prominently in the left hemisphere. Cortical thickness and intelligence were explained by the same genes. As a post hoc analysis, we tested whether a specific allele (rs6265; Val66Met in the BDNF gene) contributed to this association. Met carriers showed lower intelligence and a thicker cortex, but only the association between the BDNF genotype and cortical thickness in the left superior parietal gyrus reached significance. In conclusion, it seems that brain areas contributing to (verbal) intellectual performance are specializing under the influence of genes around the onset of puberty.
Project description:Neuroimaging research indicates that human intellectual ability is related to brain structure including the thickness of the cerebral cortex. Most studies indicate that general intelligence is positively associated with cortical thickness in areas of association cortex distributed throughout both brain hemispheres. In this study, we performed a cortical thickness mapping analysis on data from 182 healthy typically developing males and females ages 9 to 24 years to identify correlates of general intelligence (g) scores. To determine if these correlates also mediate associations of specific cognitive abilities with cortical thickness, we regressed specific cognitive test scores on g scores and analyzed the residuals with respect to cortical thickness. The effect of age on the association between cortical thickness and intelligence was examined. We found a widely distributed pattern of positive associations between cortical thickness and g scores, as derived from the first unrotated principal factor of a factor analysis of Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) subtest scores. After WASI specific cognitive subtest scores were regressed on g factor scores, the residual score variances did not correlate significantly with cortical thickness in the full sample with age covaried. When participants were grouped at the age median, significant positive associations of cortical thickness were obtained in the older group for g-residualized scores on Block Design (a measure of visual-motor integrative processing) while significant negative associations of cortical thickness were observed in the younger group for g-residualized Vocabulary scores. These results regarding correlates of general intelligence are concordant with the existing literature, while the findings from younger versus older subgroups have implications for future research on brain structural correlates of specific cognitive abilities, as well as the cognitive domain specificity of behavioral performance correlates of normative gray matter thinning during adolescence.
Project description:The development of executive function is linked to maturation of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in childhood. Childhood obesity has been associated with changes in brain structure, particularly in PFC, as well as deficits in executive functions. We aimed to determine whether differences in cortical structure mediate the relationship between executive function and childhood obesity. We analyzed MR-derived measures of cortical thickness for 2700 children between the ages of 9 and 11 years, recruited as part of the NIH Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. We related our findings to measures of executive function and body mass index (BMI). In our analysis, increased BMI was associated with significantly reduced mean cortical thickness, as well as specific bilateral reduced cortical thickness in prefrontal cortical regions. This relationship remained after accounting for age, sex, race, parental education, household income, birth-weight, and in-scanner motion. Increased BMI was also associated with lower executive function. Reduced thickness in the rostral medial and superior frontal cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex partially accounted for reductions in executive function. These results suggest that childhood obesity is associated with compromised executive function. This relationship may be partly explained by BMI-associated reduced cortical thickness in the PFC.
Project description:We investigated the association between self-reported physical exercise and cortical thickness in a large sample of cognitively normal individuals. We also determined whether a combination of physical exercise and education had more protective effects on age-related cortical thinning than either parameter alone. A total of 1,842 participants were included in this analysis. Physical exercise was assessed using a questionnaire regarding intensity, frequency, and duration. Cortical thickness was measured using a surface-based method. Longer duration of exercise (?1?hr/day), but not intensity or frequency, was associated with increased mean cortical thickness globally (P-value?=?0.013) and in the frontal regions (P-value?=?0.007). In particular, the association of exercise with cortical thinning had regional specificity in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal, precuneus, left postcentral, and inferior parietal regions. The combination of higher exercise level and higher education level showed greater global and frontal mean thickness than either parameter alone. Testing for a trend with the combination of high exercise level and high education level confirmed this finding (P-value?=?0.001-0.003). Our findings suggest that combined exercise and education have important implications for brain health, especially considering the paucity of known protective factors for age-related cortical thinning.