Reduction in white matter connectivity, revealed by diffusion tensor imaging, may account for age-related changes in face perception

Cibu Thomas, Linda Moya, Galia Avidan, Kate Humphreys, Jin Jung Kwan, Mary A Peterson, Marlene Behrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An age-related decline in face processing, even under conditions in which learning and memory are not implicated, has been well documented, but the mechanism underlying this perceptual alteration remains unknown. Here, we examine whether this behavioral change may be accounted for by a reduction in white matter connectivity with age. To this end, we acquired diffusion tensor imaging data from 28 individuals aged 18 to 86 years and quantified the number of fibers, voxels, and fractional anisotropy of the two major tracts that pass through the fusiform gyrus, the pre-eminent face processing region in the ventral temporal cortex. We also measured the ability of a subset of these individuals to make fine-grained discriminations between pairs of faces and between pairs of cars. There was a significant reduction in the structural integrity of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) in the right hemisphere as a function of age on all dependent measures and there were also some changes in the left hemisphere, albeit to a lesser extent. There was also a clear age-related decrement in accuracy of perceptual discrimination, especially for more challenging perceptual discriminations, and this held to a greater degree for faces than for cars. Of greatest relevance, there was a robust association between the reduction of IFOF integrity in the right hemisphere and the decline in face perception, suggesting that the alteration in structural connectivity between the right ventral temporal and frontal cortices may account for the age-related difficulties in face processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-284
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

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Diffusion Tensor Imaging
Temporal Lobe
Aptitude
Anisotropy
Frontal Lobe
White Matter
Facial Recognition
Learning
Discrimination (Psychology)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Reduction in white matter connectivity, revealed by diffusion tensor imaging, may account for age-related changes in face perception. / Thomas, Cibu; Moya, Linda; Avidan, Galia; Humphreys, Kate; Kwan, Jin Jung; Peterson, Mary A; Behrmann, Marlene.

In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 20, No. 2, 02.2008, p. 268-284.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thomas, Cibu ; Moya, Linda ; Avidan, Galia ; Humphreys, Kate ; Kwan, Jin Jung ; Peterson, Mary A ; Behrmann, Marlene. / Reduction in white matter connectivity, revealed by diffusion tensor imaging, may account for age-related changes in face perception. In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2008 ; Vol. 20, No. 2. pp. 268-284.
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