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Neuroimage. 2010 Jun;51(2):910-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.02.046. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Intrinsic connectivity between the hippocampus and posteromedial cortex predicts memory performance in cognitively intact older individuals.

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Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 149 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Coherent fluctuations of spontaneous brain activity are present in distinct functional-anatomic brain systems during undirected wakefulness. However, the behavioral significance of this spontaneous activity has only begun to be investigated. Our previous studies have demonstrated that successful memory formation requires coordinated neural activity in a distributed memory network including the hippocampus and posteromedial cortices, specifically the precuneus and posterior cingulate (PPC), thought to be integral nodes of the default network. In this study, we examined whether intrinsic connectivity during the resting state between the hippocampus and PPC can predict individual differences in the performance of an associative memory task among cognitively intact older individuals. The intrinsic connectivity, between regions within the hippocampus and PPC that were maximally engaged during a subsequent memory fMRI task, was measured during a period of rest prior to the performance of the memory paradigm. Stronger connectivity between the hippocampal and posteromedial regions during rest predicted better performance on the memory task. Furthermore, hippocampal-PPC intrinsic connectivity was also significantly correlated with episodic memory measures on neuropsychological tests, but not with performance in non-memory domains. Whole-brain exploratory analyses further confirmed the spatial specificity of the relationship between hippocampal-default network posteromedial cortical connectivity and memory performance in older subjects. Our findings provide support for the hypothesis that one of the functions of this large-scale brain network is to subserve episodic memory processes. Research is ongoing to determine if impaired connectivity between these regions may serve as a predictor of memory decline related to early Alzheimer's disease.

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