We used graph theoretical measures to investigate the hypothesis that structural brain connectivity constrains the influence of functional connectivity on the relation between age and fluid cognition. Across 143 healthy, community-dwelling adults 19-79 years of age, we estimated structural network properties from diffusion-weighted imaging and functional network properties from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We confirmed previous reports of age-related decline in the strength and efficiency of structural networks, as well as in the connectivity strength within and between structural network modules. Functional networks, in contrast, exhibited age-related decline only in system segregation, a measure of the distinctiveness among network modules. Aging was associated with decline in a composite measure of fluid cognition, particularly tests of executive function. Functional system segregation was a significant mediator of age-related decline in executive function. Structural network properties did not directly influence the age-related decline in functional system segregation. The raw correlational data underlying the graph theoretical measures indicated that structural connectivity exerts a limited constraint on age-related decline in functional connectivity.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.