Studies exploring relation of visual memory to white matter are extensively lacking. The Rey Visual Design Learning Test (RVDLT) is an elementary motion, colour and word independent visual memory test. It avoids a significant contribution from as many additional higher order visual brain functions as possible to visual performance, such as three-dimensional, colour, motion or word-dependent brain operations. Based on previous results, we hypothesised that test performance would be related with white matter of dorsal hippocampal commissure, corpus callosum, posterior cingulate, superior longitudinal fascicle and internal capsule.
In 14 healthy subjects, we measured intervoxel coherence (IC) by diffusion tensor imaging as an indication of connectivity and visual memory performance measured by the RVDLT. IC considers the orientation of the adjacent voxels and has a better signal-to-noise ratio than the commonly used fractional anisotropy index.
Using voxelwise linear regression analyses of the IC values, we found a significant and direct relationship between 11 clusters and visual memory test performance. The fact that memory performance correlated with white matter structure in left and right dorsal hippocampal commissure, left and right posterior cingulate, right callosal splenium, left and right superior longitudinal fascicle, right medial orbitofrontal region, left anterior cingulate, and left and right anterior limb of internal capsule emphasises our hypothesis.
Our observations in healthy subjects suggest that individual differences in brain function related to the performance of a task of higher cognitive demands might partially be associated with structural variation of white matter regions.