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Advances in functional neuroanatomy: A review of combined DTI and fMRI studies in healthy younger and older adults


Structural connections between brain regions are thought to influence neural processing within those regions. It follows that alterations to the quality of structural connections should influence the magnitude of neural activity. The quality of structural connections may also be expected to differentially influence activity in directly versus indirectly connected brain regions. To test these predictions, we reviewed studies that combined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in younger and older adults. By surveying studies that examined relationships between DTI measures of white matter integrity and fMRI measures of neural activity, we identified variables that accounted for variability in these relationships. Results revealed that relationships between white matter integrity and neural activity varied with (1) aging (i.e., positive and negative DTI-fMRI relationships in younger and older adults, respectively) and (2) spatial proximity of the neural measures (i.e., positive and negative DTI-fMRI relationships when neural measures were extracted from adjacent and non-adjacent brain regions, respectively). Together, the studies reviewed here provided support for both of our predictions.

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