Gray mattervolume covariance networks, social support, and cognition in older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: We examined the neural substrates of social support in older adults. Social support is associated with better outcomes in many facets of aging-including cognitive and functional health-but the underlying neural substrates remain largely unexplored. Methods: Voxel-based morphometry and multivariate statistics were used to identify gray matter volume covariance networks associated with social support in 112 older adults without dementia (M age = 74.6 years, 50% female), using the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey. Results: A gray matter network associated with overall social support was identified and included prefrontal, hippocampal, amygdala, cingulate, and thalamic regions. A gray matter network specifically associated with tangible social support (e.g., someone to help you if you were confined to bed) was also identified, included prefrontal, hippocampal, cingulate, insular, and thalamic regions, and correlated with memory and executive function. Discussion: Gray matter networks associated with overall and tangible social support in this study were composed of regions previously associated with memory, executive function, aging, and dementia. Longitudinal research of the interrelationships between social support, brain structure, and cognition is needed, but strengthening social support may represent a new path toward improving cognition in aging that should be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1229
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2020


  • Executive function
  • Memory
  • Multivariate statistics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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