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Cereb Cortex. 2019 Aug 5. pii: bhz117. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz117. [Epub ahead of print]

Inter-Individual Differences in Striatal Connectivity Is Related to Executive Function Through Fronto-Parietal Connectivity.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The striatum has long been associated with cognitive functions, but the mechanisms behind this are still unclear. Here we tested a new hypothesis that the striatum contributes to executive function (EF) by strengthening cortico-cortical connections. Striatal connectivity was evaluated by measuring the resting-state functional connectivity between ventral and dorsal striatum in 570 individuals, aged 3-20 years. Using structural equation modeling, we found that inter-individual differences in striatal connectivity had an indirect effect (via fronto-parietal functional connectivity) and a direct effect on a compound EF measure of working memory, inhibition, and set-shifting/flexibility. The effect of fronto-parietal connectivity on cognition did not depend on age: the influence was as strong in older as younger children. In contrast, striatal connectivity was closely related to changes in cognitive ability during childhood development, suggesting a specific role of the striatum in cognitive plasticity. These results support a new principle for striatal functioning, according to which striatum promotes cognitive development by strengthening of cortico-cortical connectivity.


Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics (PING); development; executive function; resting-state fMRI; structural equation modeling (SEM)


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