Network structure-function coupling and neurocognition in cerebral small vessel disease

Jonathan Tay, Marco Düring, Esther M.C. van Leijsen, Mayra I. Bergkamp, David G. Norris, Frank-Erik de Leeuw, Hugh S. Markus, Anil M. Tuladhar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: Cerebral small vessel disease is a leading cause of cognitive decline and vascular dementia. Small vessel disease pathology changes structural brain networks, but its impact on functional networks remains poorly understood. Structural and functional networks are closely coupled in healthy individuals, and decoupling is associated with clinical symptoms in other neurological conditions. We tested the hypothesis that structural–functional network coupling is related to neurocognitive outcomes in 262 small vessel disease patients. Methods: Participants underwent multimodal magnetic resonance imaging and cognitive assessment in 2011 and 2015. Structural connectivity networks were reconstructed using probabilistic diffusion tractography, while functional connectivity networks were estimated from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Structural and functional networks were then correlated to calculate a measure of structural–functional network coupling for each participant. Results: Lower whole-brain coupling was associated with reduced processing speed and greater apathy both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. In addition, coupling within the cognitive control network was associated with all cognitive outcomes, suggesting that neurocognitive outcomes in small vessel disease may be related to the functioning of this intrinsic connectivity network. Conclusions: Our work demonstrates the influence of structural–functional connectivity network decoupling in small vessel disease symptomatology. Cognitive control network function may be investigated in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103421
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Early online date28 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • MRI
  • Network analysis
  • Small vessel disease


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