Relationship between grey matter integrity and executive abilities in aging.Brain Res 2016; 1642:562-580BR
This cross-sectional study was designed to investigate grey matter changes that occur in healthy aging and the relationship between grey matter characteristics and executive functioning. Thirty-six young adults (18-30 years old) and 43 seniors (60-75 years old) were included. A general executive score was derived from a large battery of neuropsychological tests assessing three major aspects of executive functioning (inhibition, updating and shifting). Age-related grey matter changes were investigated by comparing young and older adults using voxel-based morphometry and voxel-based cortical thickness methods. A widespread difference in grey matter volume was found across many brain regions, whereas cortical thinning was mainly restricted to central areas. Multivariate analyses showed age-related changes in relatively similar brain regions to the respective univariate analyses but appeared more limited. Finally, in the older adult sample, a significant relationship between global executive performance and decreased grey matter volume in anterior (i.e. frontal, insular and cingulate cortex) but also some posterior brain areas (i.e. temporal and parietal cortices) as well as subcortical structures was observed. Results of this study highlight the distribution of age-related effects on grey matter volume and show that cortical atrophy does not appear primarily in "frontal" brain regions. From a cognitive viewpoint, age-related executive functioning seems to be related to grey matter volume but not to cortical thickness. Therefore, our results also highlight the influence of methodological aspects (from preprocessing to statistical analysis) on the pattern of results, which could explain the lack of consensus in literature.