Longitudinal Evidence for Dissociation of Anterior and Posterior MTL Resting-State Connectivity in Aging: Links to Perfusion and Memory

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Neuroimaging studies of spontaneous signal fluctuations as measured by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging have revealed age-related alterations in the functional architecture of brain networks. One such network is located in the medial temporal lobe (MTL), showing structural and functional variations along the anterior–posterior axis. Past cross-sectional studies of MTL functional connectivity (FC) have yielded discrepant findings, likely reflecting the fact that specific MTL subregions are differentially affected in aging. Here, using longitudinal resting-state data from 198 participants, we investigated 5-year changes in FC of the anterior and posterior MTL. We found an opposite pattern, such that the degree of FC within the anterior MTL declined after age 60, whereas elevated FC within the posterior MTL was observed along with attenuated posterior MTL-cortical connectivity. A significant negative change–change relation was observed between episodic-memory decline and elevated FC in the posterior MTL. Additional analyses revealed age-related cerebral blood flow (CBF) increases in posterior MTL at the follow-up session, along with a positive relation of elevated FC and CBF, suggesting that elevated FC is a metabolically demanding alteration. Collectively, our findings indicate that elevated FC in posterior MTL along with increased local perfusion is a sign of brain aging that underlie episodic-memory decline.

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