Structure-Function Dissociations of Human Hippocampal Subfield Stiffness and Memory Performance

Peyton L Delgorio, Lucy V. Hiscox, Ana M. Daugherty, Faria Sanjana, Grace McIlvain, Ryan T Pohlig, Matthew D. J. McGarry, Christopher Martens , Hillary Schwarb, Curtis L. Johnson

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Aging and neurodegenerative diseases lead to decline in thinking and memory ability. The subfields of the hippocampus (HCsf) play important roles in memory formation and recall. Imaging techniques sensitive to the underlying HCsf tissue microstructure can reveal unique structure-function associations and their vulnerability in aging and disease. The goal of this study was to use magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), a noninvasive MR imaging-based technique that can quantitatively image the viscoelastic mechanical properties of tissue, to determine the associations of HCsf stiffness with different cognitive domains across the lifespan. 88 adult participants completed the study (age: 23-81 years, M/F 36/51), in which we aimed to determine which HCsf regions most strongly correlated with different memory performance outcomes and if viscoelasticity of specific HCsf regions mediated the relationship between age and performance. Our results revealed that both interference cost on a verbal memory task and relational memory task performance were significantly related to cornu ammonis 1-2 (CA1-CA2) stiffness (p = 0.018 and p = 0.011, respectively), with CA1-CA2 stiffness significantly mediating the relationship between age and interference cost performance (p = 0.031). There were also significant associations between delayed free verbal recall performance and stiffness of both the dentate gyrus-cornu ammonis 3 (DG-CA3) (p = 0.016) and subiculum (SUB) (p = 0.032) regions. This further exemplifies the functional specialization of HCsf in declarative memory and the potential use of MRE measures as clinical biomarkers in assessing brain health in aging and disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7957-7968
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
Early online date6 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2022


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