Dissociating prefrontal circuitry in intelligence and memory: neuropsychological correlates of magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging

Nestor PG, Ohtani T, Bouix S, Hosokawa T, Saito Y, Newell DT, Kubicki M

Brain Imaging Behav 2015 Dec;9(4):839-47

PMID: 25515349


We examined intelligence and memory in 25 healthy participants who had both prior magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of gray matter volumes of medial orbital frontal cortex (mOFC) and rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), along with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of posterior and anterior mOFC-rACC white matter microstructure, as assessed by fractional anisotropy (FA). Results showed distinct relationships between these basic structural brain parameters and higher cognition, highlighted by a highly significant correlation of left rACC gray matter volume with memory, and to a lesser extent, though still statistically significant, correlation of left posterior mOFC-rACC FA with intelligence. Regression analyses showed that left posterior mOFC-rACC connections and left rACC gray matter volume each contributed to intelligence, with left posterior mOFC-rACC FA uniquely accounting for between 20.43 and 24.99% of the variance in intelligence, in comparison to 13.54 to 17.98% uniquely explained by left rACC gray matter volume. For memory, only left rACC gray matter volume explained neuropsychological performance, uniquely accounting for a remarkably high portion of individual variation, ranging from 73.61 to 79.21%. These results pointed to differential contributions of white mater microstructure connections and gray matter volumes to individual differences in intelligence and memory, respectively.