Mnemonic discrimination relates to perforant path integrity: An ultra-high resolution diffusion tensor imaging study.


Pattern separation describes the orthogonalization of similar inputs into unique, non-overlapping representations. This computational process is thought to serve memory by reducing interference and to be mediated by the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Using ultra-high in-plane resolution diffusion tensor imaging (hrDTI) in older adults, we previously demonstrated that integrity of the perforant path, which provides input to the dentate gyrus from entorhinal cortex, was associated with mnemonic discrimination, a behavioral outcome designed to load on pattern separation. The current hrDTI study assessed the specificity of this perforant path integrity-mnemonic discrimination relationship relative to other cognitive constructs (identified using a factor analysis) and white matter tracts (hippocampal cingulum, fornix, corpus callosum) in 112 healthy adults (20-87 years). Results revealed age-related declines in integrity of the perforant path and other medial temporal lobe (MTL) tracts (hippocampal cingulum, fornix). Controlling for global effects of brain aging, perforant path integrity related only to the factor that captured mnemonic discrimination performance. Comparable integrity-mnemonic discrimination relationships were also observed for the hippocampal cingulum and fornix. Thus, whereas perforant path integrity specifically relates to mnemonic discrimination, mnemonic discrimination may be mediated by a broader MTL network

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