Medial temporal lobe viscoelasticity and relational memory performance

Hillary Schwarb, Curtis L. Johnson, Matthew D J McGarry, Neal J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural and functional imaging studies have been among converging lines of evidence demonstrating the importance of the hippocampus in successful memory performance. The advent of a novel neuroimaging technique - magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) - now makes it possible for us to investigate the relationship between the microstructural integrity of hippocampal tissue and successful memory processing. Mechanical properties of brain tissue estimated with MRE provide a measure of the integrity of the underlying tissue microstructure and have proven to be sensitive measures of tissue health in neurodegeneration. However, until recently, MRE methods lacked sufficient resolution necessary to accurately examine specific neuroanatomical structures in the brain, and thus could not contribute to examination of specific structure-function relationships. In this study, we took advantage of recent developments in MRE spatial resolution and mechanical inversion techniques to measure the viscoelastic properties of the human hippocampus in vivo, and investigated how these properties reflect hippocampal function. Our data reveal a strong relationship between relative elastic/viscous behavior of the hippocampus and relational memory performance (N = 20). This is the first report linking the mechanical properties of brain tissue with functional performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-541
Number of pages8
StatePublished - May 15 2016


  • Elastography
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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