Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 303–308 | Cite as

Parieto-frontal gyrification and working memory in healthy adults

  • Sophie Green
  • Karen Blackmon
  • Thomas Thesen
  • Jonathan DuBois
  • Xiuyuan Wang
  • Eric Halgren
  • Orrin Devinsky
Original Research


Gyrification of the cortical mantle is a dynamic process that increases with cortical surface area and decreases with age. Increased gyrification is associated with higher scores on cognitive tasks in adults; however, the degree to which this relationship is independent of cortical surface area remains undefined. This study investigates whether regional variation in gyrification is associated with domain-general and domain-specific cognition. Our hypothesis is that increased local gyrification confers a functional advantage that is independent of surface area. To quantify regional gyrification, we computed the local gyrification index (LGI) at each vertex and averaged across a bilateral parietal-frontal region associated with general intelligence and reasoning (Jung and Haier 2007). A sample of 48 healthy adults (24 males/24 females; ages 18–68 years) completed a high-resolution 3 T T1-weighted MRI and standardized administration of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). We found a positive correlation between cortical gyrification and working memory, which remained significant after controlling for cortical surface area. Results suggest that a higher degree of local cortical folding confers a functional advantage that is independent from surface area and evident for more dynamic or “fluid” cognitive processes (i.e., working memory) rather than over-learned or “crystallized” cognitive processes.


Cortical folding Neuroimaging Working memory Neuroanatomy Brain-structure function 


Compliance with ethical standards


The study was funded by generous support from Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES).

Conflict of interest

Sophie Green declares that she has no conflict of interest. Orrin Devinsky declares that he has no conflict of interest. Karen Blackmon declares that she has no conflict of interest. Jonathan DuBois declares that he has no conflict of interest. Xiuyuan Wang declares that he has no conflict of interest. Eric Halgren declares that he has no conflict of interest. Thomas Thesen declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie Green
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karen Blackmon
    • 1
    • 3
  • Thomas Thesen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jonathan DuBois
    • 5
  • Xiuyuan Wang
    • 1
  • Eric Halgren
    • 6
  • Orrin Devinsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Epilepsy DivisionNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Florida Atlantic University, Charles E. Schmidt College of MedicineBoca RatonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral SciencesSt. George’s University School of MedicineWest IndiesGrenada
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological InstituteMcGill UniversityQuebecCanada
  6. 6.Multimodal Imaging LaboratoryUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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