Structural and Functional Alignment in the Brain Linked to Age, Sex and Cognition

The degree to which the brain’s wiring aligns with its patterns of activity can vary with sex and age, and may be genetic, suggests a study published by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The study finds that this alignment may also have implications on cognition.

The results published in Nature Communications help shed light on one of the biggest mysteries in biology—how the brain works, according to senior author Dr. Amy Kuceyeski, associate professor of mathematics in the Department of Radiology and in neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine. Mert Sabuncu, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell and in radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine, is a co-author on the paper.

"One of the greatest scientific challenges today involves mapping the human brain," Sabuncu said, "with the aim to connect its anatomical structure to function and behavior. The human brain constitutes a complex network (referred to as the connectome) that can be studied with different tools."

"In this work," Sabuncu continued, "we were interested in characterizing the coupling between the static architecture of the connectome (as captured with diffusion MRI) and the dynamic, inter-connected neural activity patterns that can be measured with functional MRI. Our analyses, reported in thus study, revealed how this coupling varies across different brain regions and across individuals, in ways related to age, sex and genetics."

Read the full story in the Weill Cornell Medicine Newsroom


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