Regional cortical thickness matters in recall after months more than minutes

Walhovd KB, Fjell AM, Dale AM, Fischl B, Quinn BT, Makris N, Salat D, Reinvang I

Neuroimage 2006 Jul;31(3):1343-51

PMID: 16540346


The aim of this study was to determine the role of regional cortical thickness in recall of verbal material over an extended time period. MRI scans of healthy adults of varying ages were obtained. Two scans were averaged per person to achieve high spatial resolution, and a semi-automated method for continuous measurement of thickness across the entire cortical mantle was employed. Verbal memory tests assessing recall after 5 min, 30 min, and a mean interval of 83 days were administered. A general linear model (GLM) of the effects of thickness at each vertex on the different memory indices was computed, controlling for gender, age, IQ, and intracranial volume. These analyses were repeated with hippocampal volume as an additional variable to be controlled for, to assess to which extent effects of cortical thickness were independent of hippocampal size. Minute effects of cortical thickness were observed with regard to shorter time intervals (5 and 30 min). However, even when controlling for the effects of hippocampal volume, higher recall across months was associated with thicker cortex of distinct areas including parts of the gyrus rectus, the middle frontal gyrus, the parieto-occipital sulcus and the lingual gyrus of both hemispheres. In addition, hemisphere-specific associations were found in parts of the right temporal and parietal lobe as well as parts of the left precuneus. This supports a unique and critical role of the thickness of distinct cortical areas in recall after months, more than after minutes.