Negative association between neurovascular coupling and cortical gray matter volume during the lifespan

Recent studies have established the moment-to-moment turnover of the blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal (TBOLD) at resting state as a key measure of local cortical brain function. Here, we sought to extend that line of research by evaluating TBOLD in 70 cortical areas with respect to corresponding brain volume, age, and sex across the lifespan in 1,344 healthy participants including 633 from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) - Development cohort (294 males and 339 females, age range 8-21 yr) and 711 healthy participants from HCP-Aging cohort (316 males and 395 females, 36-90 yr old). In both groups, we found that 1) TBOLD increased with age, 2) volume decreased with age, and 3) TBOLD and volume were highly significantly negatively correlated, independent of age. The inverse association between TBOLD and volume was documented in nearly all 70 brain areas and for both sexes, with slightly stronger associations documented for males. The strong correspondence between TBOLD and volume across age and sex suggests a common influence such as chronic neuroinflammation contributing to reduced cortical volume and increased TBOLD across the lifespan.