Education mediates microstructural changes in bilateral hippocampus

Fabrizio Piras, Andrea Cherubini, Carlo Caltagirone, Gianfranco Spalletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Education has been extensively considered an influential factor in the modulation of interindividual differences in cognitive performance and cerebral structure. Consequently, education has been linked to the concept of reserve, which refers to an unspecified aspect of brain structure or function that enables people with more education to cope better with brain pathology or age-related changes. Nevertheless, the education-related neural mechanisms involved in reserve are still not completely understood. In this study, 150 healthy subjects were submitted to a comprehensive sociodemographic, clinical and cognitive assessment, and a high-resolution structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging scan protocol. Data of micro- (mean diffusivity, MD) and macro- (volume) structural changes of six bilateral deep gray matter structures (thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, hippocampus, amygdala, and globus pallidus) were analyzed with reference to years of formal education. Results show that decreased MD in both left and right hippocampi was the only structural parameter that, along with decreasing age, significantly correlated with higher education. The present findings suggest that the hippocampal formation might be one site where education-mediated microstructural changes occur, possibly compensating for cognitive decline. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Cognitive reserve
  • DTI
  • Education
  • Hippocampus
  • Neural reserve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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