White matter lesions relate to tract-specific reductions in functional connectivity

Carolyn D Langen, Hazel I. Zonneveld, Tonya White, Wyke Huizinga, Lotte G M Cremers, Marius De Groot, Mohammad Arfan Ikram, Wiro J. Niessen, Meike W. Vernooij*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    White matter lesions play a role in cognitive decline and dementia. One presumed pathway is through disconnection of functional networks. Little is known about location-specific effects of lesions on functional connectivity. This study examined location-specific effects within anatomically-defined white matter tracts in 1584 participants of the Rotterdam Study, aged 50–95. Tracts were delineated from diffusion magnetic resonance images using probabilistic tractography. Lesions were segmented on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images. Functional connectivity was defined across each tract on resting-state functional magnetic resonance images by using gray matter parcellations corresponding to the tract ends and calculating the correlation of the mean functional activity between the gray matter regions. A significant relationship between both local and brain-wide lesion load and tract-specific functional connectivity was found in several tracts using linear regressions, also after Bonferroni correction. Indirect connectivity analyses revealed that tract-specific functional connectivity is affected by lesions in several tracts simultaneously. These results suggest that local white matter lesions can decrease tract-specific functional connectivity, both in direct and indirect connections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-103
    Number of pages7
    JournalNeurobiology of Aging: age-related phenomena, neurodegeneration and neuropathology
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


    • Brain
    • Connectivity
    • Function
    • Lesions
    • Location-specific


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