Functional changes in the cortical semantic network in amnestic mild cognitive impairment
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofNeuropsychology ; vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 417-435.
Publisher(s)American Psychological Association
Semantic memory impairment has been documented in older individuals with amnestic Mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet little is known about the neural basis of this breakdown. The main objective of this study was to investigate the brain mechanisms associated with semantic performance in patients with aMCI. Method: A group of aMCI patients and a group of healthy older controls carried out a semantic categorization task while their brain activity was recorded using magnetoencephalography (MEG). During the task, participants were shown famous faces and had to determine whether each famous person matched a given occupation. The main hypotheses were that: (i) semantic processing should be compromised for aMCI patients, and (ii) these deficits should be associated with cortical dysfunctions within specific areas of the semantic network. Results: Behavioural results showed that aMCI participants were significantly slower and less accurate than control participants at the semantic task, corroborating previous reports. Additionally, relative to controls, a significant pattern of hyperactivation was found in the aMCI group within specific regions of the semantic network, including the right anterior temporal lobe and inferior prefrontal cortex. Conclusions: Abnormal functional activation within key areas of the semantic network suggests that it is compromised early in the disease process. Moreover, this pattern of increased activation in aMCI was positively associated with grey matter integrity in specific areas, but was not associated with any specific pattern of atrophy, suggesting that functional hyperactivation may precede atrophy of the semantic network in aMCI.