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Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2018 Oct;3(10):878-886. doi: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.06.007. Epub 2018 Jul 4.

Resting-State Connectivity and Its Association With Cognitive Performance, Educational Attainment, and Household Income in the UK Biobank.

Author information

1
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Electronic address: s1517658@sms.ed.ac.uk.
2
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
3
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
4
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Brain Research Imaging Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
5
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cognitive ability is an important predictor of lifelong physical and mental well-being, and impairments are associated with many psychiatric disorders. Higher cognitive ability is also associated with greater educational attainment and increased household income. Understanding neural mechanisms underlying cognitive ability is of crucial importance for determining the nature of these associations. In the current study, we examined the spontaneous activity of the brain at rest to investigate its relationships with not only cognitive ability but also educational attainment and household income.

METHODS:

We used a large sample of resting-state neuroimaging data from the UK Biobank (n = 3950).

RESULTS:

First, analysis at the whole-brain level showed that connections involving the default mode network (DMN), frontoparietal network (FPN), and cingulo-opercular network (CON) were significantly positively associated with levels of cognitive performance assessed by a verbal-numerical reasoning test (standardized β cingulo-opercular values ranged from 0.054 to 0.097, pcorrected < .038). Connections associated with higher levels of cognitive performance were also significantly positively associated with educational attainment (r = .48, n = 4160) and household income (r = .38, n = 3793). Furthermore, analysis on the coupling of functional networks showed that better cognitive performance was associated with more positive DMN-CON connections, decreased cross-hemisphere connections between the homotopic network in the CON and FPN, and stronger CON-FPN connections (absolute βs ranged from 0.034 to 0.063, pcorrected < .045).

CONCLUSIONS:

The current study found that variation in brain resting-state functional connectivity was associated with individual differences in cognitive ability, largely involving the DMN and lateral prefrontal network. In addition, we provide evidence of shared neural associations of cognitive ability, educational attainment, and household income.

KEYWORDS:

Big data; Cognition; Educational attainment; Household income; Resting-state fMRI; UK Biobank

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