Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 217, Issue 2, pp 503–515 | Cite as

Structural correlates of cognitive domains in normal aging with diffusion tensor imaging

  • Efrat Sasson
  • Glen M. Doniger
  • Ofer Pasternak
  • Ricardo Tarrasch
  • Yaniv Assaf
Original Article


The involvement of brain structures in specific cognitive functions is not straightforward. In order to characterize the brain micro-structural correlates of cognitive domains, 52 healthy subjects, age 25–82 years, completed a computerized neuropsychological battery and were scanned using magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging. Factor analysis of 44 different cognitive scores was performed, isolating three cognitive domains—executive function, information processing speed and memory. Partial correlation was conducted between DTI parameters and each of the three cognitive domains controlling for age and motor function. Regions showing significant correlations with cognitive domains are domain-specific and are consistent with previous knowledge. While executive function was correlated with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters in frontal white matter and in the superior longitudinal fasciculus, information processing speed was correlated with DTI parameters in the cingulum, corona radiata, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, parietal white matter and in the thalamus. Memory performance was correlated with DTI measures in temporal and frontal gray matter and white matter regions, including the cingulate cortex and the parahippocampus. Thus, inter-subject variability in cognitive performance and tissue morphology, as expressed by diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging, can be used to relate tissue microstructure with cognitive performance and to provide information to corroborate other functional localization techniques.


Magnetic resonance imaging Diffusion tensor imaging Executive function Information processing speed Memory Aging 



Y.A. wishes to thank the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant no. 994/08) and the BIRAX program of the British council for grant support. The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) program of the ICT - EU FP7 framework fund the CONNECT consortium (, which supports this work.

E.S. wishes to thank the Myers-JDC-Brookdale institute of gerontology and human development, and Eshel - The association for the planning and development of services for the aged in Israel, for grant support.

Supplementary material

429_2011_344_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 kb)
429_2011_344_MOESM2_ESM.tif (273 kb)
Supplementary Figure (TIF 273 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Efrat Sasson
    • 1
  • Glen M. Doniger
    • 2
  • Ofer Pasternak
    • 3
  • Ricardo Tarrasch
    • 4
  • Yaniv Assaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology, Faculty of Life SciencesTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Clinical ScienceNeuroTrax CorporationFresh MeadowsUSA
  3. 3.Psychiatry Neourimaging Laboratory, Department of PsychiatryBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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