White Matter Association Tracts Underlying Language and Theory of Mind: An Investigation of 809 Brains from the Human Connectome Project

Citation:

Zekelman LR, Zhang F, Makris N, He J, Chen Y, Xue T, Liera D, Drane DL, Rathi Y, Golby AJ, et al. White Matter Association Tracts Underlying Language and Theory of Mind: An Investigation of 809 Brains from the Human Connectome Project. Neuroimage. 2022;246 :118739. Copy at http://www.tinyurl.com/yyreo5lu

Date Published:

2021 Nov 29

Abstract:

Language and theory of mind (ToM) are the cognitive capacities that allow for the successful interpretation and expression of meaning. While functional MRI investigations are able to consistently localize language and ToM to specific cortical regions, diffusion MRI investigations point to an inconsistent and sometimes overlapping set of white matter tracts associated with these two cognitive domains. To further examine the white matter tracts that may underlie these domains, we use a two-tensor tractography method to investigate the white matter microstructure of 809 participants from the Human Connectome Project. 20 association white matter tracts (10 in each hemisphere) are uniquely identified by leveraging a neuroanatomist-curated automated white matter tract atlas. The mean fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and number of streamlines (NoS) are measured for each white matter tract. Performance on neuropsychological assessments of semantic memory (NIH Toolbox Picture Vocabulary Test, TPVT) and emotion perception (Penn Emotion Recognition Test, PERT) are used to measure critical subcomponents of the language and ToM networks, respectively. Regression models are constructed to examine how structural measurements of left and right white matter tracts influence performance across these two assessments. We find that semantic memory performance is influenced by the number of streamlines of the left superior longitudinal fasciculus III (SLF-III), and emotion perception performance is influenced by the number of streamlines of the right SLF-III. Additionally, we find that performance on both semantic memory & emotion perception is influenced by the FA of the left arcuate fasciculus (AF). The results point to multiple, overlapping white matter tracts that underlie the cognitive domains of language and ToM. Results are discussed in terms of hemispheric dominance and concordance with prior investigations.

Last updated on 01/11/2022