Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Institute of Psychology and Behavioral Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong Universit, Shanghai, China; Brain Science and Technology Research Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China. Electronic address: [Email]
A higher education level is a protective factor against cognitive decline in elders; however, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear. Modulated by both aging and education, the hippocampus is a starting point for understanding the long-lasting effect of education on the aging of human brain. Because the hippocampus possesses functionally heterogeneous subfields and exhibits sex differences, we examined hippocampal subfields in men and women separately. We performed both cross-sectional (n = 143) and longitudinal (n = 51) analyses on healthy participants aged 65-75 years, who underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging. Volumes of the hippocampi and their subfields were estimated by automated segmentation. We found significantly positive correlations between educational attainment and the volume of hippocampal CA2/3 in men but not in women. The longitudinal analysis focusing on this region validated the above results by showing that a higher education level attenuated the progression of atrophy during a 15-month follow-up period in the CA2/3 region in men. These findings suggest that, in men, education plays a role in the aging of specific hippocampal subfields.