Aging and large-scale functional networks

white matter integrity, gray matter volume, and functional connectivity in the resting state

L. Marstaller*, M. Williams, A. Rich, G. Savage, H. Burianová

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)


Healthy aging is accompanied by neurobiological changes that affect the brain's functional organization and the individual's cognitive abilities. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of global age-related differences in the cortical white and gray matter on neural activity in three key large-scale networks. We used functional-structural covariance network analysis to assess resting state activity in the default mode network (DMN), the fronto-parietal network (FPN), and the salience network (SN) of young and older adults. We further related this functional activity to measures of cortical thickness and volume derived from structural MRI, as well as to measures of white matter integrity (fractional anisotropy [FA], mean diffusivity [MD], and radial diffusivity [RD]) derived from diffusion-weighted imaging. First, our results show that, in the direct comparison of resting state activity, young but not older adults reliably engage the SN and FPN in addition to the DMN, suggesting that older adults recruit these networks less consistently. Second, our results demonstrate that age-related decline in white matter integrity and gray matter volume is associated with activity in prefrontal nodes of the SN and FPN, possibly reflecting compensatory mechanisms. We suggest that age-related differences in gray and white matter properties differentially affect the ability of the brain to engage and coordinate large-scale functional networks that are central to efficient cognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2015


  • aging
  • resting state networks
  • white and gray matter
  • multimodal imaging
  • neural plasticity

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Aging and large-scale functional networks: white matter integrity, gray matter volume, and functional connectivity in the resting state'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this