To investigate chemotherapy dosage-related cognitive impairment and its neural mechanisms in breast cancer (BC) patients. Twenty-eight breast cancer patients after each chemotherapy cycle and matched 29 healthy control subjects underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed to compare group differences in the gray matter for the whole brain. Furthermore, mediation analysis was conducted to explore the role of brain structures in chemotherapy dosage-related cognitive impairment. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed in gray matter for the whole brain of BC patients after chemotherapy. The results revealed that the gray matter density in the left inferior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, right fusiform area, and bilateral cerebellum was decreased in the BC patients compared to controls. The number of chemotherapy cycles was negatively associated with general cognitive capacity, verbal fluency and digit span performance in the BC patients. In addition, decreased gray matter density in the right middle frontal gyrus could mediate the chemotherapy dosage effects on verbal fluency performance. These findings indicate that the dose-response relationship between chemotherapy and cognitive impairment may depend on the decreases in gray matter density of the frontal cortical structures.
Deficits in inhibitory control have been widely implicated in alcohol misuse. However, the literature does not readily distinguish the effects of drinking problems and chronic alcohol use. Here, we examined how years of drinking and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score each influences the cerebral responses to inhibitory control in nondependent drinkers. Fifty-seven adult drinkers and 57 age- and gender-matched nondrinkers participated in one 40-minute functional magnetic resonance imaging scan of the stop signal task. Data were preprocessed and modeled using SPM8. In a regression model, we contrasted stop and go success trials for individuals and examined activities of response inhibition each in link with the AUDIT score and years of alcohol use in group analyses. We specified the effects of duration of use by contrasting regional activations of drinkers and age-related changes in nondrinkers. In mediation analyses, we investigated how regional activities mediate the relationship between drinking problems and response inhibition. Higher AUDIT score but not years of drinking was positively correlated with prolonged stop signal reaction time (SSRT) and diminished responses in the cerebellum, thalamus, frontal and parietal regions, independent of years of alcohol use. Further, activity of the thalamus, anterior cingulate cortex, and presupplementary motor area significantly mediates the association, bidirectionally, between the AUDIT score and SSRT. The duration of alcohol use was associated with decreased activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus extending to superior temporal gyrus, which was not observed for age-related changes in nondrinkers. The results distinguished the association of drinking problems and years of alcohol use to inhibitory control in young adult nondependent drinkers. These new findings extend the imaging literature of alcohol misuse and may have implications for treatment to prevent the escalation from social to dependent drinking. More research is needed to confirm age-independent neural correlates of years of alcohol use.
Cognitive control is a critical executive function. Many studies have combined general linear modeling and the stop signal task (SST) to delineate the component processes of cognitive control. For instance, by contrasting stop success (SS) and stop error (SE) trials in the SST, investigators examined regional responses to stop signal inhibition. In contrast to this parameterized approach, independent component analysis (ICA) elucidates brain networks subserving cognitive control. In our earlier work of 59 adults performing the SST during fMRI, we characterized six independent components (ICs). However, none of these ICs correlated with stop signal performance, raising questions about their behavioral validity. Here, in a larger sample (n = 100), we identified and explored 23 ICs for correlation with the stop signal reaction time (SSRT), a measure of the efficiency of response inhibition. At a corrected threshold (P < 0.0005), a paracentral lobule-midcingulate network and a left inferior parietal-supplementary motor-somatomotor network showed a positive correlation between SE beta weight and SSRT. In contrast, a midline cerebellum-thalamus-pallidum network showed a negative correlation between SE beta weight and SSRT. These findings suggest that motor preparation and execution prolongs the SSRT, likely via an interaction between the go and stop processes as suggested by the race model. Behaviorally, consistent with this hypothesis, the difference in G and SE reaction times is positively correlated with SSRT across subjects. These new results highlight the importance of cognitive motor regions in response inhibition and support the utility of ICA in uncovering functional networks for cognitive control in the SST.
The locus coeruleus (LC) provides the primary noradrenergic inputs to the cerebral cortex. Despite numerous animal studies documenting the functions of the LC, research in humans is hampered by the small volume of this midbrain nucleus. Here, we took advantage of a probabilistic template, explored the cerebral functional connectivity of the LC with resting-state fMRI data of 250 healthy adults, and verified the findings by accounting for physiological noise in another data set. In addition, we contrasted connectivities of the LC and the ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra pars compacta. The results highlighted both shared and distinct connectivity of these 2 midbrain structures, as well as an opposite pattern of connectivity to bilateral amygdala, pulvinar, and right anterior insula. Additionally, LC connectivity to the fronto-parietal cortex and the cerebellum increases with age and connectivity to the visual cortex decreases with age. These findings may facilitate studies of the role of the LC in arousal, saliency responses and cognitive motor control and in the behavioral and cognitive manifestations during healthy and disordered aging. Although the first to demonstrate whole-brain LC connectivity, these findings need to be confirmed with high-resolution imaging.
The basal ganglia nuclei are critical for a variety of cognitive and motor functions. Much work has shown age-related structural changes of the basal ganglia. Yet less is known about how the functional interactions of these regions with the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum change throughout the lifespan. Here, we took advantage of a convenient sample and examined resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 250 adults 18 to 49 years of age, focusing specifically on the caudate nucleus, pallidum, putamen, and ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra (VTA/SN). There are a few main findings to report. First, with age, caudate head connectivity increased with a large region of ventromedial prefrontal/medial orbitofrontal cortex. Second, across all subjects, pallidum and putamen showed negative connectivity with default mode network (DMN) regions such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, in support of anti-correlation of the "task-positive" network (TPN) and DMN. This negative connectivity was reduced with age. Furthermore, pallidum, posterior putamen and VTA/SN connectivity to other TPN regions, such as somatomotor cortex, decreased with age. These results highlight a distinct effect of age on cerebral functional connectivity of the dorsal striatum and VTA/SN from young to middle adulthood and may help research investigating the etiologies or monitoring outcomes of neuropsychiatric conditions that implicate dopaminergic dysfunction.
Functional connectivities of the amygdala support emotional and cognitive processing. Life-span development of resting-state functional connectivities (rsFC) of the amygdala may underlie age-related differences in emotion regulatory mechanisms. To date, age-related changes in amygdala rsFC have been reported through adolescence but not as thoroughly for adulthood. This study investigated age-related differences in amygdala rsFC in 132 young and middle-aged adults (19-55 years). Data processing followed published routines. Overall, amygdala showed positive rsFC with the temporal, sensorimotor and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), insula and lentiform nucleus, and negative rsFC with visual, frontoparietal, and posterior cingulate cortex and caudate head. Amygdala rsFC with the cerebellum was positively correlated with age, and rsFCs with the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) and somatomotor cortex were negatively correlated with age, at voxel < 0.001 in combination with cluster < 0.05 FWE. These age-dependent changes in connectivity appeared to manifest to a greater extent in men than in women, although the sex difference was only evident for the cerebellum in a slope test of age regressions ( = 0.0053). Previous studies showed amygdala interaction with the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and vmPFC during emotion regulation. In region of interest analysis, amygdala rsFC with the ACC and vmPFC did not show age-related changes. These findings suggest that intrinsic connectivity of the amygdala evolved from young to middle adulthood in selective brain regions, and may inform future studies of age-related emotion regulation and maladaptive development of the amygdala circuits as an etiological marker of emotional disorders.