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Effects of hippocampal vascularization patterns on the neural resources of MTL neurocognitive circuits
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) ;
The hippocampus and adjacent entorhinal cortex (EC) form a neural circuit within the medial temporal lobe (MTL) that is crucial for episodic memory formation. Integrity of this circuit is massively affected by age-related degeneration, partly due to pathology (e.g. tau, microinfarcts), partly due to environmental factors. Interestingly, the pattern of hippocampal vascularization varies among individuals, that is, there are individuals with a single supply, and there are individuals with a double supply.
We recently found out that the individual vascularization profile interacts with verbal memory and global cognition: participants with a double supply had higher scores in the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLTII). What is not clear so far is which neuronal mechanisms underlie this effect. How does the individual vascularization profile affect cognitive aging? How does a double supply contribute to cognitive resource, and does it interact with training success?
These are the key questions addressed in this project within the CRC 1436. Here, we use the beneficial effect of a double hippocampal blood supply as model to understand the neuronal basis of cognitive resources in younger and older adults. By using ultra-high resolution functional and structural imaging at 7 Tesla together with advanced modeling techniques, we will investigate how the fine-grained hippocampal vascular supply affects age-related MTL pathology, MTL integrity, and MTL myeloarchitecture (neural resources), and how this mediates subregion-specific memory function (cognition). Finally, we will test how the effect of cognitive interventions on MTL function is modified by the hippocampal vascularization patterns.

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