Cognitive reserve (CR) refers to the hypothesized capacity of an adult brain to cope with brain pathology in order to minimize symptomatology. CR was initially investigated in dementia and acute brain damage, but it is being applied to other neuropsychiatric conditions. The present study aims at examining the fit of this concept to a sample of euthymic bipolar patients compared with healthy controls in order to investigate the role of CR in predicting psychosocial and cognitive outcome in bipolar disorder (BD). The sample included 101 subjects: 52 patients meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for BD type I or II and 49 healthy controls (HC) matched for age and gender. They were all assessed with a cognitive battery tapping into executive and memory functioning. CR was obtained using three different proxies: education-occupation, leisure activities and premorbid IQ. Psychosocial functioning was evaluated by means of the Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST). MANCOVAs were performed to determine differences in cognitive and functioning variables. Linear regression analyses were carried out to predict neuropsychological and psychosocial outcomes. Euthymic bipolar patients showed worse neuropsychological performance and psychosocial functioning than HC. The linear regression models revealed that CR was significantly predictive of FAST score (?=-0.47, p<0.0001), Executive Index (?=0.62, p<0.0001) and Visual Memory Index (?=0.44, p=0.0004), indicating that CR is a significant predictor of cognitive and psychosocial functioning in euthymic bipolar outpatients. Therefore, CR may contribute to functional outcome in BD and may be applied in research and clinical interventions to prevent cognitive and functional impairment.
We used resting-functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 98 healthy older adults to analyze how local and global measures of functional brain connectivity are affected by age, and whether they are related to differences in memory performance. Whole-brain networks were created individually by parcellating the brain into 90 cerebral regions and obtaining pairwise connectivity. First, we studied age-associations in interregional connectivity and their relationship with the length of the connections. Aging was associated with less connectivity in the long-range connections of fronto-parietal and fronto-occipital systems and with higher connectivity of the short-range connections within frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes. We also used the graph theory to measure functional integration and segregation. The pattern of the overall age-related correlations presented positive correlations of average minimum path length (r = 0.380, p = 0.008) and of global clustering coefficients (r = 0.454, p < 0.001), leading to less integrated and more segregated global networks. Main correlations in clustering coefficients were located in the frontal and parietal lobes. Higher clustering coefficients of some areas were related to lower performance in verbal and visual memory functions. In conclusion, we found that older participants showed lower connectivity of long-range connections together with higher functional segregation of these same connections, which appeared to indicate a more local clustering of information processing. Higher local clustering in older participants was negatively related to memory performance.
Different kinds of challenge can alter cognitive process and electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythms in humans. This can provide an alternative paradigms to evaluate treatment effects in drug discovery. Here, we report recent findings on the effects of challenges represented by sleep deprivation (SD), transient hypoxia, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy volunteers on cognitive processes and EEG rhythms to build a knowledge platform for novel research for drug discovery in AD Alzheimer's disease (AD). Sleep pressure enhanced frontal delta rhythms (< 4 Hz) during the night, while SD increased slow rhythms in the theta range (4-7 Hz), and reduced resting state alpha rhythms (8-12 Hz) after the following day. Furthermore, SD transiently affected cognitive performance. In contrast, transient experimental hypoxia induced abnormal posterior resting state delta and alpha rhythms in healthy volunteers that resemble the abnormal EEG rhythms typically recorded in AD patients. However, the relationship between the cognitive and EEG effects of such challenges is poorly understood. TMS reversibly interfered with higher brain functions during EEG recordings, but few studies have investigated the relationship between the cognitive and EEG effects of TMS. In conclusion, SD is the most mature challenge model for testing new drugs for AD. Future investigation is needed to better understand the opportunities offered by TMS and hypoxia challenges.
Large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging studies with diffusion imaging techniques are necessary to test and validate models of white matter neurophysiological processes that change in time, both in healthy and diseased brains. The predictive power of such longitudinal models will always be limited by the reproducibility of repeated measures acquired during different sessions. At present, there is limited quantitative knowledge about the across-session reproducibility of standard diffusion metrics in 3T multi-centric studies on subjects in stable conditions, in particular when using tract based spatial statistics and with elderly people. In this study we implemented a multi-site brain diffusion protocol in 10 clinical 3T MRI sites distributed across 4 countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, France and Greece) using vendor provided sequences from Siemens (Allegra, Trio Tim, Verio, Skyra, Biograph mMR), Philips (Achieva) and GE (HDxt) scanners. We acquired DTI data (2 × 2 × 2 mm(3), b = 700 s/mm(2), 5 b0 and 30 diffusion weighted volumes) of a group of healthy stable elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) in two separate sessions at least a week apart. For each subject and session four scalar diffusion metrics were considered: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial (AD) diffusivity. The diffusion metrics from multiple subjects and sessions at each site were aligned to their common white matter skeleton using tract-based spatial statistics. The reproducibility at each MRI site was examined by looking at group averages of absolute changes relative to the mean (%) on various parameters: i) reproducibility of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the b0 images in centrum semiovale, ii) full brain test-retest differences of the diffusion metric maps on the white matter skeleton, iii) reproducibility of the diffusion metrics on atlas-based white matter ROIs on the white matter skeleton. Despite the differences of MRI scanner configurations across sites (vendors, models, RF coils and acquisition sequences) we found good and consistent test-retest reproducibility. White matter b0 SNR reproducibility was on average 7 ± 1% with no significant MRI site effects. Whole brain analysis resulted in no significant test-retest differences at any of the sites with any of the DTI metrics. The atlas-based ROI analysis showed that the mean reproducibility errors largely remained in the 2-4% range for FA and AD and 2-6% for MD and RD, averaged across ROIs. Our results show reproducibility values comparable to those reported in studies using a smaller number of MRI scanners, slightly different DTI protocols and mostly younger populations. We therefore show that the acquisition and analysis protocols used are appropriate for multi-site experimental scenarios.
Ageing entails cognitive and motor decline as well as brain changes such as loss of gray (GM) and white matter (WM) integrity, neurovascular and functional connectivity alterations. Regarding connectivity, reduced resting-state fMRI connectivity between anterior and posterior nodes of the Default Mode Network (DMN) relates to cognitive function and has been postulated to be a hallmark of ageing. However, the relationship between age-related connectivity changes and other neuroimaging-based measures in ageing is fragmentarily investigated. In a sample of 116 healthy elders we aimed to study the relationship between antero-posterior DMN connectivity and measures of WM integrity, GM integrity and cerebral blood flow (CBF), assessed with an arterial spin labeling sequence. First, we replicated previous findings demonstrating DMN connectivity decreases in ageing and an association between antero-posterior DMN connectivity and memory scores. The results showed that the functional connectivity between posterior midline structures and the medial prefrontal cortex was related to measures of WM and GM integrity but not to CBF. Gray and WM correlates of anterio-posterior DMN connectivity included, but were not limited to, DMN areas and cingulum bundle. These results resembled patterns of age-related vulnerability which was studied by comparing the correlates of antero-posterior DMN with age-effect maps. These age-effect maps were obtained after performing an independent analysis with a second sample including both young and old subjects. We argue that antero-posterior connectivity might be a sensitive measure of brain ageing over the brain. By using a comprehensive approach, the results provide valuable knowledge that may shed further light on DMN connectivity dysfunctions in ageing.
Neuropathological studies show the hippocampus is affected in Parkinsons disease (PD), with the second subfield of the cornu armonis (CA2) being the most involved. Our aims were to assess in vivo volumes of different hippocampal subfields in patients with PD with and without visual hallucinations using MRI and test their association with verbal learning and long-term recall. A total of 18 nondemented PD patients, 18 nondemented PD patients with visual hallucinations and 18 neurologically unimpaired elderly controls matched by age and gender were enrolled in this study. We assessed the volumes of seven hippocampal subfields on MRI, including the cornu armonis (CA) sectors, subiculum, presubiculum, and the dentate gyrus (DG) using a novel technique that enables automated volumetry. The CA2-3 and CA4-DG subfields were significantly smaller in both groups of patients, while the subiculum was only reduced in PD patients with visual hallucinations, compared to controls. Significant correlations were found between learning performance and CA2-3 as well as CA4-DG volumes in the whole patient sample. These data show there is regional atrophy of specific hippocampal subfields in PD, which is more severe and further extends to the subiculum in patients with visual hallucinations. Our findings indicate that learning deficits are associated with volume loss in subfields that act as input regions in the hippocampal circuit, suggesting that degeneration in these regions could be responsible for cognitive dysfunction in PD.
Large-scale longitudinal multi-site MRI brain morphometry studies are becoming increasingly crucial to characterize both normal and clinical population groups using fully automated segmentation tools. The test-retest reproducibility of morphometry data acquired across multiple scanning sessions, and for different MR vendors, is an important reliability indicator since it defines the sensitivity of a protocol to detect longitudinal effects in a consortium. There is very limited knowledge about how across-session reliability of morphometry estimates might be affected by different 3T MRI systems. Moreover, there is a need for optimal acquisition and analysis protocols in order to reduce sample sizes. A recent study has shown that the longitudinal FreeSurfer segmentation offers improved within session test-retest reproducibility relative to the cross-sectional segmentation at one 3T site using a nonstandard multi-echo MPRAGE sequence. In this study we implement a multi-site 3T MRI morphometry protocol based on vendor provided T1 structural sequences from different vendors (3D MPRAGE on Siemens and Philips, 3D IR-SPGR on GE) implemented in 8 sites located in 4 European countries. The protocols used mild acceleration factors (1.5-2) when possible. We acquired across-session test-retest structural data of a group of healthy elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) and compared the across-session reproducibility of two full-brain automated segmentation methods based on either longitudinal or cross-sectional FreeSurfer processing. The segmentations include cortical thickness, intracranial, ventricle and subcortical volumes. Reproducibility is evaluated as absolute changes relative to the mean (%), Dice coefficient for volume overlap and intraclass correlation coefficients across two sessions. We found that this acquisition and analysis protocol gives comparable reproducibility results to previous studies that used longer acquisitions without acceleration. We also show that the longitudinal processing is systematically more reliable across sites regardless of MRI system differences. The reproducibility errors of the longitudinal segmentations are on average approximately half of those obtained with the cross sectional analysis for all volume segmentations and for entorhinal cortical thickness. No significant differences in reliability are found between the segmentation methods for the other cortical thickness estimates. The average of two MPRAGE volumes acquired within each test-retest session did not systematically improve the across-session reproducibility of morphometry estimates. Our results extend those from previous studies that showed improved reliability of the longitudinal analysis at single sites and/or with non-standard acquisition methods. The multi-site acquisition and analysis protocol presented here is promising for clinical applications since it allows for smaller sample sizes per MRI site or shorter trials in studies evaluating the role of potential biomarkers to predict disease progression or treatment effects.
Previous studies with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) demonstrated a differential brain activity and connectivity after treatment with donepezil in Alzheimers disease (AD) when compared to healthy elders. Importantly however, there are no available studies where the placebo or control group included comparable AD patients relative to the treated groups. Fifteen patients recently diagnosed of AD were randomized to treatment (n = 8) or to control group (n = 7); the former receiving daily treatment of donepezil during 3 months. At baseline and follow-up, both groups underwent resting-state as well as task-fMRI examinations, this latter assessing encoding of visual scenes. The treated group showed higher connectivity in areas of the default mode network, namely the right parahippocampal gyrus at follow-up resting-fMRI as compared to the control group. On the other hand, for the task-fMRI, the untreated AD group presented progressive increased activation in the left middle temporal gyrus and bilateral precuneus at the 3-month examination compared to baseline, whereas the treated group exhibited stable patterns of brain activity. Donepezil treatment is associated with stabilization of connectivity of medial temporal regions during resting state and of brain efficiency during a cognitive demand, on the whole reducing progressive dysfunctional reorganizations observed during the natural course of the disease.
More educated elders are less susceptible to age-related or pathological cognitive changes. We aimed at providing a comprehensive contribution to the neural mechanism underlying this effect thanks to a multimodal approach. Thirty-six healthy elders were selected based on neuropsychological assessments and cerebral amyloid imaging, i.e. as presenting normal cognition and a negative florbetapir-PET scan. All subjects underwent structural MRI, FDG-PET and resting-state functional MRI scans. We assessed the relationships between years of education and i) gray matter volume, ii) gray matter metabolism and iii) functional connectivity in the brain areas showing associations with both volume and metabolism. Higher years of education were related to greater volume in the superior temporal gyrus, insula and anterior cingulate cortex and to greater metabolism in the anterior cingulate cortex. The latter thus showed both volume and metabolism increases with education. Seed connectivity analyses based on this region showed that education was positively related to the functional connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus as well as the inferior frontal lobe, posterior cingulate cortex and angular gyrus. Increased connectivity was in turn related with improved cognitive performances. Reinforcement of the connectivity of the anterior cingulate cortex with distant cortical areas of the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes appears as one of the mechanisms underlying education-related reserve in healthy elders.
In the field of ageing and dementia, brain- or cognitive reserve refers to the capacity of the brain to manage pathology or age-related changes thereby minimizing clinical manifestations. The brain reserve capacity (BRC) hypothesis argues that this capacity derives from an individuals unique neural profile (e.g., cell count, synaptic connections, brain volume, etc.). Complimentarily, the cognitive reserve (CR) hypothesis emphasizes inter-individual differences in the effective recruitment of neural networks and cognitive processes to compensate for age-related effects or pathology. Despite an abundance of research, there is scarce literature attempting to synthesize the BRC the CR models. In this paper, we will review important aging and dementia studies using structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate and attempt to assimilate both reserve hypotheses. The possibility to conceptualize reserve as reflecting indexes of brain plasticity will be proposed and novel data suggesting an intimate and complex correspondence between active and passive components of reserve will be presented.
Alzheimers disease (AD) has been traditionally conceptualized as a clinicopathological entity, its definite diagnosis requiring the presence of characteristic pathology together with a dementia clinical picture. The fact that certain AD biomarkers show an acceptable sensitivity and specificity to detect AD pathology has shifted the diagnostic paradigm towards a clinicobiological approach. The objective of this paper is to present recent data that show how cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers behave in preclinical AD. These studies have been performed in presymptomatic subjects (PreS) and asymptomatic subjects at risk for the disease (AsymR). In brief, the results show in PreS subjects that CSF biomarkers present a positive correlation with time to disease onset to reach floor levels at symptom onset. In addition, memory performance presents distinct associations in the AD continuum, being related to A?(1-42) levels in AsymR subjects and to t-tau and p-tau in prodromal AD. Furthermore, an increase in cortical thickness of typical AD areas was observed when mean A?(1-42) levels were still within the normal range in PreS subjects, or they presented transitional values in AsymR subjects. Overall, these findings suggest that the preclinical stage is biologically active and that there may be structural changes when amyloid is starting its deposition.
We aimed to assess the association between core cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, regional brain atrophy and clinical severity in the Alzheimers disease (AD) continuum, as well as to investigate how cognitive reserve (CR) may modulate these putative associations. Forty-nine subjects (11 controls, 10 patients with subjective memory complaints, 19 with mild cognitive impairment and 9 mild AD) underwent lumbar puncture and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CSF amyloid-?(1-42) (A?(1-42)), total tau (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau (p-tau(181)) were determined. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was applied and multiple regression analyses for the whole sample were carried out. Clinical severity was adjusted using the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes score (CDR-SB). A negative correlation between t-tau levels and grey matter (GM) volume in temporo-parietal regions was found, regardless of CDR-SB score. In contrast, the negative correlation between p-tau(181) and GM volume was largely explained by clinical severity, except in the posterior cingulate cortex. CR did not significantly modify these correlations. A?(1-42) levels were not related to GM volume but were related to clinical severity, an association that was attenuated when CR was considered. In conclusion, the present findings reflect that t-tau CSF concentrations are associated with GM atrophy in neuropathologically relevant areas across the AD continuum, whereas the p-tau(181) association is largely dependent on the degree of clinical severity. The relationship between CSF A?(1-42) and clinical severity seems to be modulated by CR, suggesting that there may be subjects with pathological levels of A?(1-42) and high CR estimates who remain clinically asymptomatic.
Brain areas interact mutually to perform particular complex brain functions such as memory or language. Furthermore, under resting-state conditions several spatial patterns have been identified that resemble functional systems involved in cognitive functions. Among these, the default-mode network (DMN), which is consistently deactivated during task periods and is related to a variety of cognitive functions, has attracted most attention. In addition, in resting-state conditions some brain areas engaged in focused attention (such as the anticorrelated network, AN) show a strong negative correlation with DMN; as task demand increases, AN activity rises, and DMN activity falls.
Brain regions simultaneously activated during any cognitive process are functionally connected, forming large-scale networks. These functional networks can be examined during active conditions [i.e., task-functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)] and also in passive states (resting-fMRI), where the default mode network (DMN) is the most widely investigated system. The role of the DMN remains unclear, although it is known to be responsible for the shift between resting and focused attention processing. There is also some evidence for its malleability in relation to previous experience. Here we investigated brain connectivity patterns in 16 healthy young subjects by using an n-back task with increasing levels of memory load within the fMRI context. Prior to this working memory (WM) task, participants were trained outside fMRI with a shortened test version. Immediately after, they underwent a resting-state fMRI acquisition followed by the full fMRI n-back test. We observed that the degree of intrinsic correlation within DMN and WM networks was maximal during the most demanding n-back condition (3-back). Furthermore, individuals showing a stronger negative correlation between the two networks under both conditions exhibited better behavioural performance. Interestingly, and despite the fact that we considered eight different resting-state fMRI networks previously identified in humans, only the connectivity within the posteromedial parts of the DMN (precuneus) prior to the fMRI n-back task predicted WM execution. Our results using a data-driven probabilistic approach for fMRI analysis provide the first evidence of a direct relationship between behavioural performance and the degree of negative correlation between the DMN and WM networks. They further suggest that in the context of expectancy for an imminent cognitive challenge, higher resting-state activity in the posteromedial parietal cortex may be related to increased attentional preparatory resources.
Establishing the relationship between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) ß-amyloid 1-42 (Aß) and cortical thickness (CTh) would represent a major step forward in the understanding of the Alzheimers disease (AD) process. We studied this relationship in a group of healthy control subjects and subjects with subjective memory complaints with preserved cognitive function at neuropsychological testing.
The term cognitive reserve describes the capacity of the adult brain to minimise the clinical manifestation of a neurodegenerative process. The acquisition of cognitive reserve has been linked to the performance of certain intellectual and cognitive activities throughout the whole of the individuals life.
Evidence from neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies indicates that the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is a core region in emotional processing, particularly during down-regulation of negative emotional conditions. However, emotional regulation is a process subject to major inter-individual differences, some of which may be explained by personality traits. In the present study we used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the left DLPFC to investigate whether transiently increasing the activity of this region resulted in changes in the ratings of positive, neutral and negative emotional pictures. Results revealed that anodal, but not cathodal, tDCS reduced the perceived degree of emotional valence for negative stimuli, possibly due to an enhancement of cognitive control of emotional expression. We also aimed to determine whether personality traits (extraversion and neuroticism) might condition the impact of tDCS. We found that individuals with higher scores on the introversion personality dimension were more permeable than extraverts to the modulatory effects of the stimulation. The present study underlines the role of the left DLPFC in emotional regulation, and stresses the importance of considering individual personality characteristics as a relevant variable, although replication is needed given the limited sample size of our study.
We describe the neuroimaging characteristics of prodromal AD (PrdAD) patients diagnosed using the new research criteria in a clinical setting. In order to further characterize these patients, we also study the relationship between neuropsychology, CSF biomarkers and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.
The anterior cingulate cortex is a cerebral region engaged in several emotional and cognitive functions. The aim of this study was to investigate possible anterior cingulate and paracingulate sulcal abnormalities in schizophrenia. Twenty-three patients with DSM-IV diagnoses of schizophrenia were compared with 23 healthy subjects matched for age, gender, and parental socioeconomic status. Magnetic resonance images were used to explore the morphology of these regions, with volume and maximum depth being measured by an automated method of sulcal recognition. Additionally, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was performed to analyze possible reduction in gray and white matter of the anterior cingulate region. A smaller volume of the left anterior cingulate sulcus (ACS) was observed in patients with schizophrenia when compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, female patients showed a reduction in volume of the left ACS and an increase of the right paracingulate sulcus (PCS) compared to female controls. There was also a significant relationship between the depth of right PCS and neuroleptic exposure. VBM analysis showed a reduction in left anterior cingulate gray matter. These findings provide further evidence of left anterior middle frontal cortex abnormalities in schizophrenia. In addition, the results suggest gender differences in the structural abnormalities of the illness.
We investigated the progression of cognitive and cerebral changes in 30 patients with a first-ever lacunar infarct (LI): 15 with vascular mild cognitive impairment (MCI-V) and 15 without cognitive impairment. All cases were followed up 18 +/- 6 months after the stroke and underwent neurological, neuropsychological and MRI assessments at baseline and longitudinally.
White matter (WM) damage has been reported in Alzheimers Disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies. It is, however, unknown how the investigation of multiple tensor indexes in the same patients, can differentiate them from normal aging or relate to patients cognition. Forty-six individuals (15 healthy, 16 a-MCI and 15 AD) were included. Voxel-based tract based spatial-statistics (TBSS) was used to obtain whole-brain maps of main WM bundles for fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (DR), axial diffusivity (DA) and mean diffusivity (MD). FA reductions were evidenced among AD patients with posterior predominance. A-MCI patients displayed reduced mean FA in these critical regions, compared to healthy elders. MD increases were widespread in both groups of patients. Interestingly, a-MCI patients exhibited DR increases in overlapping areas of FA shrinkages in AD, whereas DA increases were only observed in AD. Gray matter atrophy explained most DTI differences, except those regarding MD in both groups as well as DR increases in posterior associative pathways among a-MCI cases. FA values were the only DTI measure significantly related to memory performance among patients. Present findings suggest that most DTI-derived changes in AD and a-MCI are largely secondary to gray matter atrophy. Notably however, specific DR signal increases in posterior parts of the inferior fronto-occipital and longitudinal fasciculi may reflect early WM compromise in preclinical dementia, which is independent of atrophy. Finally, global measures of integrity, particularly orientation coherence (FA) of diffusion, appear to be more closely related to the cognitive profile of our patients than indexes reflecting water movement parallel (DA) and perpendicular (DR) to the primary diffusion direction.
Cognitive reserve (CR) is the brains capacity to cope with cerebral damage to minimize clinical manifestations. The passive model considers head or brain measures as anatomical substrates of CR, whereas the active model emphasizes the use of brain networks effectively. Sixteen healthy subjects, 12 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 16 cases with mild Alzheimers disease (AD) were included to investigate the relationships between proxies of CR and cerebral measures considered in the passive and active models. CR proxies were inferred premorbid IQ (WAIS Vocabulary test), education-occupation, a questionnaire of intellectual and social activities and a composite CR measure. MRI-derived whole-brain volumes and brain activity by functional MRI during a visual encoding task were obtained. Among healthy elders, higher CR was related to larger brains and reduced activity during cognitive processing, suggesting more effective use of cerebral networks. In contrast, higher CR was associated with reduced brain volumes in MCI and AD and increased brain function in the latter, indicating more advanced neuropathology but that active compensatory mechanisms are still at work in higher CR patients. The right superior temporal gyrus (BA 22) and the left superior parietal lobe (BA 7) showed greatest significant differences in direction of slope with CR and activation between controls and AD cases. Finally, a regression analysis revealed that fMRI patterns were more closely related to CR proxies than brain volumes. Overall, inverse relationships for healthy and pathological aging groups emerged between brain structure and function and CR variables.
Cognitive reserve (CR) defines the capacity of the adult brain to cope with pathology in order to minimize symptomatology. Relevant lifetime social, cognitive and leisure activities represent measurable proxies of cognitive CR but its underlying structural and functional brain mechanisms remain poorly understood. We investigated the relationship between CR and regional gray matter volumes and brain activity (fMRI) during a working memory task in a sample of healthy elders. Participants with higher CR had larger gray matter volumes in frontal and parietal regions. Conversely, a negative correlation was observed between CR and fMRI signal in the right inferior frontal cortex, suggesting increased neural efficiency for higher CR individuals. This latter association however disappeared after adjusting for gray matter images in a voxel-based manner. Altogether, present results may reflect both general and specific anatomofunctional correlates of CR in the healthy elders. Thus, whereas heteromodal anterior and posterior gray matter regions correspond to passive (i.e. morphological) correlates of CR unrelated to functional brain activation during this particular cognitive task, the right inferior frontal area reveals interactions between active and passive components of CR related to the cognitive functions tested in the fMRI study.
Cognitive reserve (CR) reflects the capacity of the brain to endure neuropathology in order to minimize clinical manifestations. Previous studies showed that CR modulates the patterns of brain activity in both healthy and clinical populations. In the present study we sought to determine whether reorganizations of functional brain resources linked to CR could already be observed in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) and mild Alzheimers disease (AD) patients when performing a task corresponding to an unaffected cognitive domain. We further investigated if activity in regions showing task-induced deactivations, usually identified as pertaining to the default-mode network (DMN), was also influenced by CR.
Verbal fluency tests are often used to assess cognitive dysfunction in Parkinsons disease. These tests have been found to be impaired even in initial stages of this illness. We applied voxel-based morphometry to investigate the neuroanatomic substrates of semantic and phonemic fluency impairment. Correlations between gray matter density and semantic as well as phonemic fluency performance were performed in 32 nondemented Parkinsons disease patients. We found that gray matter of temporal, frontal and cerebellar areas correlated with semantic fluency scores. In contrast, no gray matter correlations were found for phonemic fluency or for general cognitive functions. These results suggest that semantic fluency impairment is reflecting structural gray matter changes in regions involved in language networks.
Behavioral consequences of a brain insult represent an interaction between the injury and the capacity of the rest of the brain to adapt to it. We provide experimental support for the notion that genetic factors play a critical role in such adaptation. We induced a controlled brain disruption using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and show that APOE status determines its impact on distributed brain networks as assessed by functional MRI (fMRI).Twenty non-demented elders exhibiting mild memory dysfunction underwent two fMRI studies during face-name encoding tasks (before and after rTMS). Baseline task performance was associated with activation of a network of brain regions in prefrontal, parietal, medial temporal and visual associative areas. APOE ?4 bearers exhibited this pattern in two separate independent components, whereas ?4-non carriers presented a single partially overlapping network. Following rTMS all subjects showed slight ameliorations in memory performance, regardless of APOE status. However, after rTMS APOE ?4-carriers showed significant changes in brain network activation, expressing strikingly similar spatial configuration as the one observed in the non-carrier group prior to stimulation. Similarly, activity in areas of the default-mode network (DMN) was found in a single component among the ?4-non bearers, whereas among carriers it appeared disaggregated in three distinct spatiotemporal components that changed to an integrated single component after rTMS.Our findings demonstrate that genetic background play a fundamental role in the brain responses to focal insults, conditioning expression of distinct brain networks to sustain similar cognitive performance.
Studies in asymptomatic granulin gene (GRN) mutation carriers are essential to improve our understanding of the pattern and timing of early morphologic brain changes in frontotemporal lobar degeneration. The main objectives of this study were to assess the effect of age in cortical thickness changes (CTh) in preclinical GRN mutation carriers and to study the relationship of CTh with cognitive performance in GRN mutation carriers. We calculated CTh maps in 13 asymptomatic carriers of the c.709-1G>A GRN mutation and 13 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers presented different patterns of age-related cortical thinning in the right superior temporal and middle temporal gyri and the banks of the superior temporal sulcus bilaterally when compared with controls. Cortical thickness was correlated with neuropsychological test scores: Trail Making Tests A and B, and the Boston Naming Test. Distinctive age-related cortical thinning in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers in lateral temporal cortices suggests an early and disease-specific effect in these areas.
The concept of cognitive reserve (CR) has been defined as individual differences in the efficient utilization of brain networks which allow some people to cope better than others with brain pathology. CR has been developed mainly in the field of aging and dementia after it was observed that there appears to be no direct relationship between the degree of brain pathology and the severity of clinical manifestations of this damage. The present study applies the concept of CR to a sample of children and adolescents with a first episode of schizophrenia, aiming to assess the possible influence of CR on neuropsychological performance after two year follow-up, controlling for the influence of clinical psychopathology.
In recent years, several theories have been proposed in attempts to identify the neural mechanisms underlying successful cognitive aging. Old subjects show increased neural activity during the performance of tasks, mainly in prefrontal areas, which is interpreted as a compensatory mechanism linked to functional brain efficiency. Moreover, resting-state studies have concluded that elders show disconnection or disruption of large-scale functional networks. We used functional MRI during resting-state and a verbal n-back task with different levels of memory load in a cohort of young and old healthy adults to identify patterns of networks associated with working memory and brain default mode. We found that the disruption of resting-state networks in the elderly coexists with task-related overactivations of certain brain areas and with reorganizations within these functional networks. Moreover, elders who were able to activate additional areas and to recruit a more bilateral frontal pattern within the task-related network achieved successful performance on the task. We concluded that the balanced and plastic reorganization of brain networks underlies successful cognitive aging. This observation allows the integration of several theories that have been proposed to date regarding the aging brain.
Verbal fluency relies on the coordinated activity between left frontal and temporal areas. Patients with Parkinsons disease (PD) present phonemic and semantic fluency deficits. Recent studies suggest that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) enhances adaptative patterns of brain activity between functionally connected areas.
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