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Longitudinal stability of the brain functional connectome is associated with episodic memory performance in aging

By Olga Therese Ousdal, Tobias Kaufmann, Knut Kolskår, Alexandra Vik, Eike Wehling, Astri J. Lundervold, Arvid Lundervold, Lars T. Westlye

Posted 11 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/606178 (published DOI: 10.1002/hbm.24833)

The brain functional connectome forms a relatively stable and idiosyncratic backbone that can be used for identification or fingerprinting of individuals with a high level of accuracy. While previous cross-sectional evidence has demonstrated increased stability and distinctiveness of the brain connectome during the course of childhood and adolescence, less is known regarding the longitudinal stability in middle and old age. Here we collected structural and resting state functional MRI data at two time-points separated by 2-3 years in 75 middle-aged and older adults (age 49-80, SD = 6.91 years) which allowed us to assess the long-term stability of the functional connectome. We show that the connectome backbone generally remains stable over a 2-3 year time frame in middle- and old age. Independent of age, cortical volume was associated with the connectome stability of several canonical resting-state networks, suggesting that the connectome backbone relates to the structural integrity of the cortex. Moreover, individual longitudinal stability of subcortical and default mode networks were associated with differences in cross-sectional and longitudinal measures of episodic memory performance, supporting the functional relevance. The findings encourage the use of connectome stability analyses for understanding individual differences in cognitive aging. Furthermore, the observation that age-related changes in episodic memory performance relates to the stability of subcortical and default mode networks, provides new longitudinal evidence for the importance of these networks in maintaining mnemonic processing in old age.

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