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A Network Flow-based Analysis of Cognitive Reserve in Normal Ageing and Alzheimer's Disease

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Marcus Kaiser



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Cognitive reserve is the ability to sustain cognitive function even with a certain amount of brain damages. Here we investigate the neural compensation mechanism of cognitive reserve from the perspective of structural brain connectivity. Our goal was to show that normal people with high education levels (i.e., cognitive reserve) maintain abundant pathways connecting any two brain regions, providing better compensation or resilience after brain damage. Accordingly, patients with high education levels show more deterioration in structural brain connectivity than those with low education levels before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) become apparent. To test this hypothesis, we use network flow measuring the number of alternative paths between two brain regions in the brain network. The experimental results show that for normal aging, education strengthens network reliability, as measured through flow values, in a subnetwork centered at the supramarginal gyrus. For AD, a subnetwork centered at the left middle frontal gyrus shows a negative correlation between flow and education, which implies more collapse in structural brain connectivity for highly educated patients. We conclude that cognitive reserve may come from the ability of network reorganization to secure the information flow within the brain network, therefore making it more resistant to disease progress.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Yoo SW, Han CE, Shin JS, Seo SW, Na DL, Kaiser M, Jeong Y, Seong JK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2015

Volume: 5

Online publication date: 20/05/2015

Acceptance date: 26/03/2015

Date deposited: 20/04/2016

ISSN (print): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/srep10057


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Funder referenceFunder name
NAP-09-04National Agenda Project - Korea Research Council of Fundamental Science Technology
NRF-2012R1A1B3004157National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) - Ministry of Education
NRF-NRF-2012R1A1A2044776National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant - Korean government (MEST)
R32-10142National Research Foundation of Korea - Ministry of Education, Science and Technology