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Strength of Structural and Functional Frontostriatal Connectivity Predicts Self-Control in the Healthy Elderly


Hänggi, Jürgen; Lohrey, Corinna; Drobetz, Reinhard; Baetschmann, Hansruedi; Forstmeier, Simon; Maercker, Andreas; Jäncke, Lutz (2016). Strength of Structural and Functional Frontostriatal Connectivity Predicts Self-Control in the Healthy Elderly. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8:307.

Abstract

Self-regulation refers to the successful use of executive functions and initiation of top-down processes to control one's thoughts, behavior, and emotions, and it is crucial to perform self-control. Self-control is needed to overcome impulses and can be assessed by delay of gratification (DoG) and delay discounting (DD) paradigms. In children/adolescents, good DoG/DD ability depends on the maturity of frontostriatal connectivity, and its decline in strength with advancing age might adversely affect self-control because prefrontal brain regions are more prone to normal age-related atrophy than other regions. Here, we aimed at highlighting the relationship between frontostriatal connectivity strength and DoG performance in advanced age. We recruited 40 healthy elderly individuals (mean age 74.0 ± 7.7 years) and assessed the DoG ability using the German version of the DoG test for adults in addition to the delay discounting (DD) paradigm. Based on diffusion-weighted and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data, respectively, the structural and functional whole-brain connectome were reconstructed based on 90 different brain regions of interest in addition to a 12-node frontostriatal DoG-specific network and the resulting connectivity matrices were subjected to network-based statistics. The 90-nodes whole-brain connectome analyses revealed subnetworks significantly associated with DoG and DD with a preponderance of frontostriatal nodes involved suggesting a high specificity of the findings. Structural and functional connectivity strengths between the putamen, caudate nucleus, and nucleus accumbens on the one hand and orbitofrontal, dorsal, and ventral lateral prefrontal cortices on the other hand showed strong positive correlations with DoG and negative correlations with DD corrected for age, sex, intracranial volume, and head motion parameters. These associations cannot be explained by differences in impulsivity and executive functioning. This pattern of correlations between structural or functional frontostriatal connectivity strength and self-control suggests that, in addition to the importance of the frontostriatal nodes itself, the structural and functional properties of different connections within the frontostriatal network are crucial for self-controlled behaviors in the healthy elderly. Because high DoG/low DD is a significant predictor of willpower and wellbeing in the elderly population, interventions aiming at strengthening frontostriatal connectivity to strengthen self-controlled behavior are needed in the future.

Abstract

Self-regulation refers to the successful use of executive functions and initiation of top-down processes to control one's thoughts, behavior, and emotions, and it is crucial to perform self-control. Self-control is needed to overcome impulses and can be assessed by delay of gratification (DoG) and delay discounting (DD) paradigms. In children/adolescents, good DoG/DD ability depends on the maturity of frontostriatal connectivity, and its decline in strength with advancing age might adversely affect self-control because prefrontal brain regions are more prone to normal age-related atrophy than other regions. Here, we aimed at highlighting the relationship between frontostriatal connectivity strength and DoG performance in advanced age. We recruited 40 healthy elderly individuals (mean age 74.0 ± 7.7 years) and assessed the DoG ability using the German version of the DoG test for adults in addition to the delay discounting (DD) paradigm. Based on diffusion-weighted and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data, respectively, the structural and functional whole-brain connectome were reconstructed based on 90 different brain regions of interest in addition to a 12-node frontostriatal DoG-specific network and the resulting connectivity matrices were subjected to network-based statistics. The 90-nodes whole-brain connectome analyses revealed subnetworks significantly associated with DoG and DD with a preponderance of frontostriatal nodes involved suggesting a high specificity of the findings. Structural and functional connectivity strengths between the putamen, caudate nucleus, and nucleus accumbens on the one hand and orbitofrontal, dorsal, and ventral lateral prefrontal cortices on the other hand showed strong positive correlations with DoG and negative correlations with DD corrected for age, sex, intracranial volume, and head motion parameters. These associations cannot be explained by differences in impulsivity and executive functioning. This pattern of correlations between structural or functional frontostriatal connectivity strength and self-control suggests that, in addition to the importance of the frontostriatal nodes itself, the structural and functional properties of different connections within the frontostriatal network are crucial for self-controlled behaviors in the healthy elderly. Because high DoG/low DD is a significant predictor of willpower and wellbeing in the elderly population, interventions aiming at strengthening frontostriatal connectivity to strengthen self-controlled behavior are needed in the future.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:24 Jan 2017 09:08
Last Modified:10 Aug 2017 08:39
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1663-4365
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2016.00307
PubMed ID:28105013

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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