Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1444–1452 | Cite as

Age specificity in fornix-to-hippocampus association

  • Yunglin GazesEmail author
  • Peipei Li
  • Emily Sun
  • Qolamreza Razlighi
  • Angeliki Tsapanou
Original Research


Both white and grey matter atrophy with age, but it is still unclear how decline in white matter relates to decline in grey matter, and how this relationship varies with age. In a group of healthy adults from 20 to 80 years old, divided into three age groups by tertiles, we cross-sectionally examined the white-to-grey matter associations in the fornix and the hippocampus, and tested if and how the fornix-to-hippocampus relationship differs across the age groups. Both structures were also tested as predictors for performance on a memory test, the Selective Reminding Task (SRT). Participants were imaged with T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), from which the hippocampal volume, fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean diffusivity (MD) for the bilateral crus and body of the fornix were calculated. Our data showed that even after accounting for age, sex, and motion parameters, fornix integrity predicted hippocampal volume in the two older age groups (middle and old age) for the crus of the fornix, and only in the oldest age group for the body of the fornix. Furthermore, fornix integrity significantly predicted SRT performance, whereas hippocampal volume did not; this relationship was also observed only in the oldest age group, and absent in the two younger age groups. The age specificity of the relationships suggests that the fornix-to-hippocampus relationship only manifests once brain structures begin to atrophy in old age, and that fornix integrity is a more sensitive measure for episodic memory than is hippocampal volume.


Diffusion tensor imaging Episodic memory Aging Fornix Hippocampus T1-weighted imaging 



This study was funded by National Institute of Health/Aging under grant numbers K01AG051777, RF1AG038465, and R01AG026158.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Participants in this study were treated in accordance with the ethical standards of the Columbia University Institutional Review Board. They were only tested after they had a complete understanding of the risks and benefits involved in this research and had provided written consent for participation and use of their data.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yunglin Gazes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peipei Li
    • 1
  • Emily Sun
    • 1
  • Qolamreza Razlighi
    • 1
  • Angeliki Tsapanou
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive Neuroscience Division, Department of NeurologyColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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