Fiber-specific variations in anterior transcallosal white matter structure contribute to age-related differences in motor performance

Hamed Zivari Adab, Sima Chalavi, Thiago S. Monteiro, Jolien Gooijers, Thijs Dhollander, Dante Mantini, Stephan P. Swinnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Age-related differences in bimanual motor performance have been extensively documented, but their underlying neural mechanisms remain less clear. Studies applying diffusion MRI in the aging population have revealed evidence for age-related white matter variations in the corpus callosum (CC) which are related to bimanual motor performance. However, the diffusion tensor model used in those studies is confounded by partial volume effects in voxels with complex fiber geometries which are present in up to 90% of white matter voxels, including the bilateral projections of the CC. A recently developed whole-brain analysis framework, known as fixel-based analysis (FBA), enables comprehensive statistical analyses of white matter quantitative measures in the presence of such complex fiber geometries. To investigate the contribution of age-related fiber-specific white matter variations to age-related differences in bimanual performance, a cross-sectional lifespan sample of healthy human adults (N ​= ​95; 20–75 years of age) performed a bimanual tracking task. Furthermore, diffusion MRI data were acquired and the FBA metrics associated with fiber density, cross-section, and combined fiber density and cross-section were estimated. Whole-brain FBA revealed significant negative associations between age and fiber density, cross-section, and combined metrics of multiple white matter tracts, including the bilateral projections of the CC, indicative of white matter micro- and macrostructural degradation with age. More importantly, mediation analyses demonstrated that age-related variations in the combined (fiber density and cross-section) metric of the genu, but not splenium, of the CC contributed to the observed age-related differences in bimanual coordination performance. These findings highlight the contribution of variations in interhemispheric communication between prefrontal (non-motor) cortices to age-related differences in motor performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116530
JournalNeuroImage
Volume209
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Bimanual coordination
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Fixel-based analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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