Behavioral inhibition corresponds to white matter fiber bundle integrity in older adults


Little is known about the contribution of white matter integrity to inhibitory cognitive control, particularly in healthy aging. The present study examines the correspondence between white matter fiber bundle length and behavioral inhibition in 37 community-dwelling older adults (aged 51–78 years). Participants underwent neuroimaging with 3 Tesla MRI, and completed a behavioral test of inhibition (i.e., Go/NoGo task). Quantitative tractography derived from diffusion tensor imaging (qtDTI) was used to measure white matter fiber bundle lengths (FBLs) in tracts known to innervate frontal brain regions, including the anterior corpus callosum (AntCC), the cingulate gyrus segment of the cingulum bundle (CING), uncinate fasciculus (UNC), and the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). Performance on the Go/NoGo task was measured by the number of commission errors standardized to reaction time. Hierarchical regression models revealed that shorter FBLs in the CING (p < 0.05) and the bilateral UNC (p < 0.01) were associated with lower inhibitory performance after adjusting for multiple comparisons, supporting a disconnection model of response inhibition in older adults. Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to examine the evolution of inhibitory errors in older adult populations and potential for therapeutic intervention.

Brain imaging and behavior