Congratulations Dr. Kenneth Heilman on the publication of “The oblique effect: The relationship between profiles of visuospatial preference, cognition, and brain connectomics in older adults,” in the October issue of Neuropsychologia.
The oblique effect (OE) describes the visuospatial advantage for identifying stimuli oriented horizontally or vertically rather than diagonally; little is known about brain aging and the OE. We investigated this relationship using the Judgment of Line Orientation (JLO) in 107 older adults (∼age = 67.8 ± 6.6; 51% female) together with neuropsychological tests of executive functioning (EF), attention/information processing (AIP), and neuroimaging. Only JLO lines falling between 36 and 54 or 126–144° were considered oblique. To quantify the oblique effect, we calculated z-scores for oblique errors (zOblique = #oblique errors/#oblique lines), and similarly, horizontal + vertical line errors (zHV) and a composite measure of oblique relative to HV errors (zOE). Composite z-scores of EF and AIP reflected domains associated with JLO performance. Graph theory analysis integrated T1-derived volumetry and diffusion MRI-derived white matter tractography into connectivity matrices analyzed for select network properties. Participants produced more zOblique than zHV errors (p < 0.001). Age was not associated with zOE adjusting for sex, education, and MMSE. Similarly adjusted linear regression models revealed that lower EF was associated with a larger oblique effect (p < 0.001). Modular analyses of neural connectivity revealed a differential patterns of network affiliation that varied by high versus low group status determined via median split of zOblique and zHV errors, separately. Older adults exhibit the oblique effect and it is associated with specific cognitive processes and regional brain networks that may facilitate future investigations of visuospatial preference in aging.