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Reaction time variability and brain white matter integrity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-657
JournalNeuropsychology
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019

Abstract

Objective: Mean speed of responding is the most commonly-used measure in the assessment of reaction time. An alternative measure is intra-individual variability (IIV): the inconsistency of responding across multiple trials of a test. IIV has been suggested as an important indicator of central nervous system functioning, and as such, there has been increasing interest in the associations between IIV and brain imaging metrics. Results however, have been inconsistent. The present seeks to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the associations between a variety of measures of brain white matter integrity and individual differences in choice reaction time (CRT) IIV.

Method: MRI brain scans of members of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936) were assessed to obtain measures of the volume and severity of white matter hyperintensities, and the integrity of brain white matter tracts. CRT was assessed with a four choice reaction time task on a separate occasion. Data were analysed using multiple regression (range N = 358 to 670). Results: Greater volume of hyperintensities and more severe hyperintensities in frontal regions were associated with higher CRT IIV. White matter tract integrity, as assessed by both fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity, was not significantly associated with CRT IIV. Associations with hyperintensities were attenuated and no longer significant after controlling for mean CRT. Conclusions: Taken together, the results of the present study suggested that IIV was not incrementally predictive of white matter integrity over mean speed. This is in contrast to previous reports, and highlights the need for further study.

    Research areas

  • white matter hyperintensities, diffusion tensor imaging, reaction time, intra-individual variability, cognitive ageing

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