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Right cerebellar-left frontal (RC-LF) white matter integrity (WMI) has been associated with working memory. However, prior studies have employed measures of working memory that include processing speed and attention. We examined the relationships between the RC-LF WMI and processing speed, attention, and working memory to clarify the relationship of RC-LF WMI with a specific cognitive function. Right superior longitudinal fasciculus II (SLF II) WMI and visual attention were included as a negative control tract and task to demonstrate a double dissociation.
Adult survivors of childhood brain tumors [n = 29, age: M = 22 years (SD = 5), 45% female] and demographically matched controls were recruited (n = 29). Tests of auditory attention span, working memory, and visual attention served as cognitive measures. Participants completed a 3-T MRI diffusion-weighted imaging scan. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (RD) served as WMI measures. Partial correlations between WMI and cognitive scores included controlling for type of treatment.
A correlational double dissociation was found. RC-LF WMI was associated with auditory attention (FA: r = .42, p = .03; RD: r = −.50, p = .01) and was not associated with visual attention (FA: r = −.11, p = .59; RD: r = −.11, p = .57). SLF II FA WMI was associated with visual attention (FA: r = .44, p = .02; RD: r = −.17, p = .40) and was not associated with auditory attention (FA: r = .24, p = .22; RD: r = −.10, p = .62).
The results show that RC-LF WMI is associated with auditory attention span rather than working memory per se and provides evidence for a specificity based on the correlational double dissociation.