Relating cognition to both brain structure and function: A systematic review of methods

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Cognitive neuroscience explores the mechanisms of cognition by studying its structural and functional brain correlates. Many studies have combined structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to uncover the complex relationship between them. Here, we report the first systematic review that assesses how information from structural and functional neuroimaging methods can be integrated to investigate the brain substrates of cognition. Web of Science and Scopus databases were searched for studies of healthy young adult populations that collected cognitive data, and structural and functional neuroimaging data. Five percent of screened studies met all inclusion criteria. Next, 50% of included studies related cognitive performance to brain structure and function without quantitative analysis of the relationship. Finally, 31% of studies formally integrated structural and functional brain data. Overall, many studies consider either structural or functional neural correlates of cognition, and of those that consider both, they have rarely been integrated. We identified four emergent approaches to the characterisation of the relationship between brain structure, function and cognition; comparative, predictive, fusion and complementary. We discuss the insights provided each approach about the relationship between brain structure and function and how it impacts cognitive performance. In addition, we discuss how authors can select approaches to suit their research questions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Connectivity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Sept 2022


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