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Multimodal parameters of brain structure and function related to sex differences in cognitive performance.

By Ruben C. Gur, Tyler M. Moore, Adon F.G. Rosen, Kosha Ruparel, Theodore D. Satterthwaite, David R. Roalf, Efstathios D. Gennatas, Warren B. Bilker, Russell T. Shinohara, Allison Port, Mark A Elliott, Ragini Verma, Christos Davatzikos, Daniel H Wolf, John A. Detre, Raquel E. Gur

Posted 04 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/659193

Cognitive ability is a complex product of brain processes, yet it remains unknown how brain structure and function together lead to individual differences in developing cognitive skills. We performed multimodal neuroimaging in 1601 youths age 8-22 on the same 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner with contemporaneous neurocognitive assessment. Across age groups, high performers had larger volumes, greater gray matter density, lower mean diffusivity and lower cerebral blood flow, compared to low performers. These effects, which varied by region, were robust in males and females across age groups, but bigger in females for volume and in adult males for gray matter density and cerebral blood flow. Amplitude of low frequency fluctuations and regional homogeneity values positively related to performance in males but not in adult females for most regions. Regions showing strongest associations with performance include baso-striatal (thalamus), limbic (hippocampus), frontal (orbital and midfrontal) temporal (midtemporal), Parietal (precuneus and superior parietal) and occipital cortex (fusiform and lingual). Cross-validated regularized regressions of brain parameters combined explained ~20% of performance variance. Our cross-modal results indicate that abundance and integrity of neural tissue, as well as the maintenance of low energy metabolism while at rest, combine to optimize cognitive performance in humans.

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