Zinc is a biologically essential element and involved in a wide range of cellular processes. Here, we investigated the associations of zinc levels in hair with brain activity during the n-back working memory task using functional magnetic resonance imaging, fractional anisotropy (FA) of diffusion tensor imaging, and cognitive differences in a study cohort of 924 healthy young adults. Our findings showed that greater hair zinc levels were associated with lower brain activity during working memory in extensive areas in the default mode network (i.e., greater task-induced deactivation) as well as greater FA in white matter areas near the hippocampus and posterior limbs of the internal capsule. These findings advance previous non-neuroimaging findings of zinc’s associations with excitability, excitability-associated disorders, and myelination.
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