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To identify novel associations between modifiable physical and health variables, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers, and cognitive function in a cohort of older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Metrics of cardiometabolic risk, stress, inflammation, neurotrophic/growth factors, AD, and cognition were assessed in 154 MCI participants (Mean age = 74.1 years) from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Partial Least Squares analysis was employed to examine associations among these physiological variables and cognition.
Latent variable 1 revealed a unique combination of AD biomarkers, neurotrophic/growth factors, education, and stress that were significantly associated with specific domains of cognitive function, including episodic memory, executive function, processing speed, and language, representing 45.2% of the cross-block covariance in the data. Age, body mass index, and metrics tapping basic attention or premorbid IQ were not significant.
Our data-driven analysis highlights the significant relationships between metrics associated with AD pathology, neuroprotection, and neuroplasticity, primarily with tasks tapping episodic memory, executive function, processing speed, and verbal fluency rather than more basic tasks that do not require mental manipulation (basic attention and vocabulary). These data also indicate that biological metrics are more strongly associated with episodic memory, executive function, and processing speed than chronological age in older adults with MCI.
Externalizing disorders are known to be partly heritable, but the biological pathways linking genetic risk to the manifestation of these costly behaviors remain under investigation. This study sought to identify neural phenotypes associated with genomic vulnerability for externalizing disorders.
One-hundred fifty-five White, non-Hispanic veterans were genotyped using a genome-wide array and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Genetic susceptibility was assessed using an independently developed polygenic score (PS) for externalizing, and functional neural networks were identified using graph theory based network analysis. Tasks of inhibitory control and psychiatric diagnosis (alcohol/substance use disorders) were used to measure externalizing phenotypes.
A polygenic externalizing disorder score (PS) predicted connectivity in a brain circuit (10 nodes, nine links) centered on left amygdala that included several cortical [bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) pars triangularis, left rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC)] and subcortical (bilateral amygdala, hippocampus, and striatum) regions. Directional analyses revealed that bilateral amygdala influenced left prefrontal cortex (IFG) in participants scoring higher on the externalizing PS, whereas the opposite direction of influence was observed for those scoring lower on the PS. Polygenic variation was also associated with higher Participation Coefficient for bilateral amygdala and left rACC, suggesting that genes related to externalizing modulated the extent to which these nodes functioned as communication hubs.
Findings suggest that externalizing polygenic risk is associated with disrupted connectivity in a neural network implicated in emotion regulation, impulse control, and reinforcement learning. Results provide evidence that this network represents a genetically associated neurobiological vulnerability for externalizing disorders.
Objectives: Research on the cognitive sequelae of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) suggests that, despite generally rapid recovery, difficulties may persist in the domain of cognitive control. The goal of this study was to examine whether individuals with chronic blast-related mTBI show behavioral or neural alterations associated with cognitive control. Methods: We collected event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data during a flanker task in 17 individuals with blast-related mTBI and 16 individuals with blast-exposure without TBI (control). Results: Groups did not significantly differ in behavioral measures of cognitive control. Relative to the control group, the mTBI group showed greater deactivation of regions associated with the default mode network during the processing of errors. Additionally, error processing in the mTBI group was associated with enhanced negative coupling between the default mode network and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex as well as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, regions of the salience and central executive networks that are associated with cognitive control. Conclusions: These results suggest that deactivation of default mode network regions and associated enhancements of connectivity with cognitive control regions may act as a compensatory mechanism for successful cognitive control task performance in mTBI. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1–11)
Objectives: Recent advances in neuroimaging methodologies sensitive to axonal injury have made it possible to assess in vivo the extent of traumatic brain injury (TBI) -related disruption in neural structures and their connections. The objective of this paper is to review studies examining connectivity in TBI with an emphasis on structural and functional MRI methods that have proven to be valuable in uncovering neural abnormalities associated with this condition. Methods: We review studies that have examined white matter integrity in TBI of varying etiology and levels of severity, and consider how findings at different times post-injury may inform underlying mechanisms of post-injury progression and recovery. Moreover, in light of recent advances in neuroimaging methods to study the functional connectivity among brain regions that form integrated networks, we review TBI studies that use resting-state functional connectivity MRI methodology to examine neural networks disrupted by putative axonal injury. Results: The findings suggest that TBI is associated with altered structural and functional connectivity, characterized by decreased integrity of white matter pathways and imbalance and inefficiency of functional networks. These structural and functional alterations are often associated with neurocognitive dysfunction and poor functional outcomes. Conclusions: TBI has a negative impact on distributed brain networks that lead to behavioral disturbance. (JINS, 2016, 22, 120–137)
Aging is associated with performance reductions in executive function and episodic memory, although there is substantial individual variability in cognition among older adults. One factor that may be positively associated with cognition in aging is physical activity. To date, few studies have objectively assessed physical activity in young and older adults, and examined whether physical activity is differentially associated with cognition in aging. Young (n=29, age 18–31 years) and older adults (n=31, ages 55–82 years) completed standardized neuropsychological testing to assess executive function and episodic memory capacities. An experimental face-name relational memory task was administered to augment assessment of episodic memory. Physical activity (total step count and step rate) was objectively assessed using an accelerometer, and hierarchical regressions were used to evaluate relationships between cognition and physical activity. Older adults performed more poorly on tasks of executive function and episodic memory. Physical activity was positively associated with a composite measure of visual episodic memory and face-name memory accuracy in older adults. Physical activity associations with cognition were independent of sedentary behavior, which was negatively correlated with memory performance. Physical activity was not associated with cognitive performance in younger adults. Physical activity is positively associated with episodic memory performance in aging. The relationship appears to be strongest for face-name relational memory and visual episodic memory, likely attributable to the fact that these tasks make strong demands on the hippocampus. The results suggest that physical activity relates to cognition in older, but not younger adults. (JINS, 2015, 21, 780–790)
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