Hippocampal viscoelasticity and episodic memory performance in healthy older adults examined with magnetic resonance elastography

Lucy V. Hiscox, Curtis L. Johnson, Matthew D.J. McGarry, Hillary Schwarb, Edwin J.R. van Beek, Neil Roberts, John M. Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (SciVal)


Episodic memory is particularly sensitive to normative aging; however, studies investigating the structure-function relationships that support episodic memory have primarily been limited to gross volumetric measures of brain tissue health. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an emerging non-invasive, high-resolution imaging technique that uniquely quantifies brain viscoelasticity, and as such, provides a more specific measure of neural microstructural integrity. Recently, a significant double dissociation between orbitofrontal cortex-fluid intelligence and hippocampal-relational memory structure-function relationships was observed in young adults, highlighting the potential of sensitive MRE measures for studying brain health and its relation to cognitive function. However, the structure-function relationship observed by MRE has not yet been explored in healthy older adults. In this study, we examined the relationship between hippocampal (HC) viscoelasticity and episodic memory in cognitively healthy adults aged 66–73 years (N = 11), as measured with the verbal-paired associates (VPA) subtest from the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-R). Given the particular dependence of verbal memory tasks on the left HC, unilateral HC MRE measurements were considered for the first time. A significant negative correlation was found between left HC damping ratio, ξ and VPA recall score (rs = −0.77, p = 0.009), which is consistent with previous findings of a relationship between HC ξ and memory performance in young adults. Conversely, correlations between right HC ξ with VPA recall score were not significant. These results highlight the utility of MRE to study cognitive decline and brain aging and suggest its possible use as a sensitive imaging biomarker for memory-related impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors express their sincere thanks to all participants who took part in this study and to all the radiographers at the Edinburgh Imaging Facility, QMRI. They also thank the Join Dementia Research (JDR) database for their service. JDR is funded by the Department of Health and delivered by the National Institute for Health Research in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, Alzheimer?s Research UK, and Alzheimer?s Society?www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • Elastography
  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Hippocampal viscoelasticity and episodic memory performance in healthy older adults examined with magnetic resonance elastography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this