Attention network dysfunction underlies memory impairment in posterior cortical atrophy

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Accumulating evidence suggests that memory is impaired in posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), alongside the early and defining visual disorder. The posterior parietal cortex is a key region of pathology in PCA and memory impairment may be the result of dysfunction of parietally dependent network function rather than the medial temporal lobe dependent dysfunction that defines the storage deficits in typical Alzheimer's disease. We assessed episodic memory performance and network function in16 PCA patients and 19 healthy controls who underwent structural and resting-state functional MRI and neuropsychological testing. Memory was assessed using the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCSRT), a sensitive test of episodic memory storage and retrieval. We examined correlations between memory performance and functional connectivity in the dorsal attention (DAN) and default mode network (DMN). Immediate recall on the FCSRT was relatively preserved in PCA patients. Total recall performance was impaired in patients relative to healthy controls and performance benefitted from retrieval cues. In patients only, disrupted connectivity in the DAN, but not the DMN, was associated with total recall. Memory impairment may arise from disruption to the dorsal attention network, subserved by the dorsal posterior parietal cortex, a key region of pathology in PCA, rather than classic medial temporal lobe memory circuitry.We propose that functional dysconnectivity in attentional circuits underpins memory impairment in PCA.




Veldsman, M., Zamboni, G., Butler, C., & Ahmed, S. (2019). Attention network dysfunction underlies memory impairment in posterior cortical atrophy. NeuroImage: Clinical, 22.

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