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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Aug 23;102(34):12212-7. Epub 2005 Aug 15.

Choice reaction time performance correlates with diffusion anisotropy in white matter pathways supporting visuospatial attention.

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  • 1Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, 149 13th Street, Room 2301, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA. dtuch@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Humans exhibit significant interindividual variability in behavioral reaction time (RT) performance yet the underlying neural mechanisms for this variability remain largely unknown. It has been proposed that interindividual variability in RT performance may be due to differences in white matter (WM) physiological properties, although such a relationship has never been demonstrated in cortical projection or association pathways in healthy young adults. Using diffusion tensor MRI (DTI), we sought to test whether diffusion tensor fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of the orientational coherence of water self-diffusion, is regionally correlated with RT on a visual self-paced choice RT (CRT) task. CRT was found to be significantly correlated with FA in projection and association pathways supporting visuospatial attention including the right optic radiation, right posterior thalamus, and right medial precuneus WM. Significant correlations were also observed in left superior temporal sulcus WM and the left parietal operculum. The lateralization of the CRT-FA correlation to right visual and parietal WM pathways is consistent with the specialization of right visual and parietal cortices for visuospatial attention. The localization of the CRT-FA correlations to predominantly visual and parietal WM pathways, but not to motor pathways or the corpus callosum indicates that individual differences in visual CRT performance are associated with variations in the WM underlying the visuospatial attention network as opposed to pathways supporting motor movement or interhemispheric transmission.

PMID:
16103359
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1189298
Free PMC Article
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