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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Brain white matter tract integrity and cognitive abilities in community-dwelling older people: The Lothian Birth Cohort, 1936
Author(s): Booth, Tom
Bastin, Mark E
Penke, Lars
Maniega, Susana Muñoz
Murray, Catherine
Royle, Natalie A
Gow, Alan J
Corley, Janie
Henderson, Ross D
Valdés Hernández, Maria del C
Starr, John M
Wardlaw, Joanna M
Deary, Ian J
Keywords: Cognitive ability
white matter integrity
bifactor model
Issue Date: 30-Sep-2013
Citation: Booth T, Bastin ME, Penke L, Maniega SM, Murray C, Royle NA, Gow AJ, Corley J, Henderson RD, Hernández MdCV, Starr JM, Wardlaw JM & Deary IJ (2013) Brain white matter tract integrity and cognitive abilities in community-dwelling older people: The Lothian Birth Cohort, 1936, Neuropsychology, 27 (5), pp. 595-607.
Abstract: Objective The present study investigates associations between brain white matter tract integrity and cognitive abilities in community-dwelling older people (N = 655). We explored two potential confounds of white matter tract−cognition associations in later life: (a) whether the associations between tracts and specific cognitive abilities are accounted for by general cognitive ability (g); and (b) how the presence of atrophy and white matter lesions affect these associations. Method Tract integrity was determined using quantitative diffusion magnetic resonance imaging tractography (tract-averaged fractional anisotropy [FA]). Using confirmatory factor analysis, we compared first-order and bifactor models to investigate whether specific tract-ability associations were accounted for by g. Results Significant associations were found between g and FA in bilateral anterior thalamic radiations (r range: .16−.18, p < .01), uncinate (r range: .19−.26, p < .001), arcuate fasciculi (r range: .11−.12, p < .05), and the splenium of corpus callosum (r = .14, p < .01). After controlling for g within the bifactor model, some significant specific cognitive domain associations remained. Results also suggest that the primary effects of controlling for whole brain integrity were on g associations, not specific abilities. Conclusion Results suggest that g accounts for most of, but not all, the tract−cognition associations in the current data. When controlling for age-related overall brain structural changes, only minor attenuations of the tract−cognition associations were found, and these were primarily with g. In totality, the results highlight the importance of controlling for g when investigating associations between specific cognitive abilities and neuropsychology variables.
DOI Link: 10.1037/a0033354
Rights: This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s).

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