Poster A131, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Busyness and brain structure: Middle-aged adults show strongest relationship between busyness and cortical thickness
Sara B. Festini1, Xi Chen1, Denise C. Park1; 1University of Texas at Dallas
Greater day-to-day busyness has been associated with superior cognitive function (Festini et al., 2016). However, it is unknown whether busyness is also related to brain structure. Given prior positive observed associations between education, occupation complexity, activity levels and cortical thickness, as well as increases in brain structure following training interventions, we hypothesized that greater busyness would be associated with greater cortical thickness. The present study used data from the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study (N = 298, ages 20-89). Busyness was assessed with the self-report Martin and Park Environmental Demands Questionnaire. Cortical thickness was measured with an automatized FreeSurfer protocol and manual edits. Analysis revealed a positive association between busyness and mean cortical thickness. Moreover, there was a significant age x busyness interaction, such that the only significant relationship between busyness and mean cortical thickness occurred in middle-age (45-64 years). Additional vertex-level analyses revealed that, after controlling for age, the busyness effects were strongest in the left superior frontal gyrus and right caudal middle frontal gyrus/precentral gyrus. Vertex-level assessment of only middle-aged adults indicated the largest effects of busyness were in the left superior frontal gyrus and right precentral gyrus. To summarize, greater busyness was associated with greater mean cortical thickness, particularly in frontal regions, and this relationship was strongest for middle-aged adults. Thus, we speculate that lifestyle engagement may exert the largest neural protective effects in middle-age and that by older ages, deterioration of brain structure and function may result in a weakening of the protective effects conferred by engagement.
Topic Area: OTHER