Agnieszka Z. Burzynska1, Irene E. Nagel1, Claudia Preuschhof1, Sebastian Gluth1, Lars Bckmann1,2, Shu-Chen Li1, Ulman Lindenberger1, Hauke R. Heekeren1,3
1Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; 2Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
We investigated the cortical structural underpinnings of executive functioning in 129 healthy adults (73 younger, 20-32 years; 56 older, 60-71 years). We measured executive functions by Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and cortical thickness by applying surface-based segmentation (Freesurfer). The structural underpinnings of WCST largely overlapped with previously defined WCST functional patterns and the structure-performance relationship was stronger in later than in earlier adulthood. Our data suggest that the extent of structural preservation in old age differentiates between high and low performers, underscoring the need of taking performance level into account when studying changes in brain structure across adulthood.