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1.  Phenomenology and anatomy of abnormal behaviours in primary progressive aphasia 
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a group of disorders with progressive language impairment. Abnormal behaviour may develop in PPA as the disease evolves, but the clinical features and brain basis of behavioural change in PPA have not been fully defined. 33 PPA patients (9 semantic dementia, SD, 14 progressive nonfluent aphasia, PNFA, 7 logopenic/phonological aphasia, LPA and 3 patients with a PPA syndrome in association with progranulin mutations, GRN-PPA) were assessed using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory to record behavioural changes, as well as volumetric MR imaging. The most common abnormal behaviours in SD were irritability, disinhibition, depression and abnormal appetite, in PNFA apathy, agitation and depression, in LPA anxiety, irritability, agitation and apathy, and in GRN-PPA apathy and irritability. Voxel-based morphometry analysis revealed greater atrophy of right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in PPA patients with anxiety, apathy, irritability/lability and abnormal appetite/eating disorders, and greater atrophy of left OFC in those with disinhibition. Areas involved beyond OFC included right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (apathy), right cingulate (irritability/lability) and left anterior superior and medial temporal lobe (disinhibition). Behavioural abnormalities may be clinically significant in PPA, and these abnormalities are underpinned by atrophy of overlapping frontotemporal networks centred on OFC.
PMCID: PMC2896484  PMID: 20400120
Primary progressive aphasia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia
2.  White matter tract signatures of the progressive aphasias 
Neurobiology of Aging  2013;34(6):1687-1699.
The primary progressive aphasias (PPA) are a heterogeneous group of language-led neurodegenerative diseases resulting from large-scale brain network degeneration. White matter (WM) pathways bind networks together, and might therefore hold information about PPA pathogenesis. Here we used diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics to compare WM tract changes between PPA syndromes and with respect to Alzheimer's disease and healthy controls in 33 patients with PPA (13 nonfluent/agrammatic PPA); 10 logopenic variant PPA; and 10 semantic variant PPA. Nonfluent/agrammatic PPA was associated with predominantly left-sided and anterior tract alterations including uncinate fasciculus (UF) and subcortical projections; semantic variant PPA with bilateral alterations in inferior longitudinal fasciculus and UF; and logopenic variant PPA with bilateral but predominantly left-sided alterations in inferior longitudinal fasciculus, UF, superior longitudinal fasciculus, and subcortical projections. Tract alterations were more extensive than gray matter alterations, and the extent of alteration across tracts and PPA syndromes varied between diffusivity metrics. These WM signatures of PPA syndromes illustrate the selective vulnerability of brain language networks in these diseases and might have some pathologic specificity.
PMCID: PMC3601331  PMID: 23312804
Primary progressive aphasia; DTI; Networks; White matter
3.  Progressive logopenic/phonological aphasia: Erosion of the language network 
Neuroimage  2010;49(1):984-993.
The primary progressive aphasias (PPA) are paradigmatic disorders of language network breakdown associated with focal degeneration of the left cerebral hemisphere. Here we addressed brain correlates of PPA in a detailed neuroanatomical analysis of the third canonical syndrome of PPA, logopenic/phonological aphasia (LPA), in relation to the more widely studied clinico-anatomical syndromes of semantic dementia (SD) and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA). 32 PPA patients (9 SD, 14 PNFA, 9 LPA) and 18 cognitively normal controls had volumetric brain MRI with regional volumetry, cortical thickness, grey and white matter voxel-based morphometry analyses. Five of nine patients with LPA had cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers consistent with Alzheimer (AD) pathology (AD-PPA) and 2/9 patients had progranulin (GRN) mutations (GRN-PPA). The LPA group had tissue loss in a widespread left hemisphere network. Compared with PNFA and SD, the LPA group had more extensive involvement of grey matter in posterior temporal and parietal cortices and long association white matter tracts. Overlapping but distinct networks were involved in the AD-PPA and GRN-PPA subgroups, with more anterior temporal lobe involvement in GRN-PPA. The importance of these findings is threefold: firstly, the clinico-anatomical entity of LPA has a profile of brain damage that is complementary to the network-based disorders of SD and PNFA; secondly, the core phonological processing deficit in LPA is likely to arise from temporo-parietal junction damage but disease spread occurs through the dorsal language network (and in GRN-PPA, also the ventral language network); and finally, GRN mutations provide a specific molecular substrate for language network dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2943046  PMID: 19679189
Primary progressive aphasia; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Logopenic aphasia
4.  Frontal White Matter Tracts Sustaining Speech Production in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(29):9754-9767.
In primary progressive aphasia (PPA), speech and language difficulties are caused by neurodegeneration of specific brain networks. In the nonfluent/agrammatic variant (nfvPPA), motor speech and grammatical deficits are associated with atrophy in a left fronto-insular-striatal network previously implicated in speech production. In vivo dissection of the crossing white matter (WM) tracts within this “speech production network” is complex and has rarely been performed in health or in PPA. We hypothesized that damage to these tracts would be specific to nfvPPA and would correlate with differential aspects of the patients' fluency abilities. We prospectively studied 25 PPA and 21 healthy individuals who underwent extensive cognitive testing and 3 T MRI. Using residual bootstrap Q-ball probabilistic tractography on high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging (HARDI), we reconstructed pathways connecting posterior inferior frontal, inferior premotor, insula, supplementary motor area (SMA) complex, striatum, and standard ventral and dorsal language pathways. We extracted tract-specific diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics to assess changes across PPA variants and perform brain–behavioral correlations. Significant WM changes in the left intrafrontal and frontostriatal pathways were found in nfvPPA, but not in the semantic or logopenic variants. Correlations between tract-specific DTI metrics with cognitive scores confirmed the specific involvement of this anterior–dorsal network in fluency and suggested a preferential role of a posterior premotor-SMA pathway in motor speech. This study shows that left WM pathways connecting the speech production network are selectively damaged in nfvPPA and suggests that different tracts within this system are involved in subcomponents of fluency. These findings emphasize the emerging role of diffusion imaging in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC4099550  PMID: 25031413
diffusion tensor imaging; frontal tracts; primary progressive aphasia; speech production; tractography; white matter
5.  Neuroimaging in the Differential Diagnosis of Primary Progressive Aphasia – Illustrative Case Series in the Light of New Diagnostic Criteria 
Polish Journal of Radiology  2014;79:251-258.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a progressive language disorder associated with atrophy of the dominant language hemisphere, typically left. Current PPA criteria divide PPA into three variants: non-fluent (nfvPPA), semantic (svPPA) and logopenic (lvPPA). The classification of PPA into one of the three variants may be performed at 3 levels: I) clinical, II) imaging-supported, III) definite pathologic diagnosis. This paper aimed at assessing the feasibility of the imaging-supported diagnostics of PPA variants in the Polish clinical setting with access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) examinations.
Case Report
We present the clinical and neuroimaging data on 6 patients (4 women, 2 men) clinically diagnosed with PPA (3 with nfvPPA and 3 with lvPPA) in whom MRI and SPECT were performed in order to determine if imaging-supported diagnosis could be established in those cases. In 4 individuals (2 with nfvPPA and 2 with lvPPA) clinical diagnosis was supported by neuroimaging (SPECT, albeit not MRI), thus level II of PPA diagnosis could be established in those cases. MRI results were either inconsistent with the clinical diagnosis (Patients 1 and 2) or a mixed pattern of atrophy was observed (Patients 3–6).
Imaging-supported diagnosis of PPA variant is more feasible with quantitative analysis of SPECT images than with purely qualitative visual analysis of MRI. Hypoperfusion abnormalities evidenced by SPECT are more variant-specific than patterns of atrophy.
PMCID: PMC4207292  PMID: 25343001
Primary Progressive Aphasia; Frontotemporal Dementia; Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); Single Photon-Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT)
6.  Asymmetric TDP-43 distribution in primary progressive aphasia with progranulin mutation 
Neurology  2010;74(20):1607-1610.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) results from an asymmetric degeneration of the language dominant (usually left) hemisphere and can be associated with the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD) or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). This study aimed to investigate whether the anatomic distribution of TDP-43 inclusions displayed a corresponding leftward asymmetry in a patient with PPA with a mutation in the progranulin gene and FTLD pathology.
Brain tissue from a 65-year-old patient with PPA and progranulin mutation was analyzed using immunohistochemical methods for TDP-43. Analysis was performed in the superior temporal gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, orbitofrontal cortex, entorhinal cortex, and dentate gyrus. Neuronal intranuclear inclusions, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, and dystrophic neurites were quantified using modified stereologic analysis. Analysis of variance was used to determine significant effects.
All 3 types of inclusions predominated on the left side of analyzed cortical regions. They were also more frequent in language areas than in memory-related areas.
These results demonstrate a phenotypically concordant distribution of abnormal TDP-43 inclusions in primary progressive aphasia (PPA). This contrasts with PPA cases with Alzheimer pathology where no consistent leftward asymmetry of neurofibrillary degeneration or amyloid deposition has been demonstrated despite the leftward asymmetry of the atrophy, and where neurofibrillary tangles show a greater density in memory than language areas despite the predominantly aphasic phenotype. This case suggests that the TDP-43 inclusions in PPA–frontotemporal lobar degeneration are more tightly linked to neuronal death and dysfunction than neurofibrillary and amyloid deposits in PPA–Alzheimer disease.
= Alzheimer disease;
= anterior part of inferior parietal lobule;
= dentate gyrus;
= dystrophic neurite;
= entorhinal cortex;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= inferior temporal gyrus;
= neuronal cytoplasmic inclusion;
= neuronal intranuclear inclusion;
= orbitofrontal cortex;
= posterior part of inferior parietal lobule;
= primary progressive aphasia;
= superior temporal gyrus.
PMCID: PMC2875132  PMID: 20479359
7.  Elevated occipital β-amyloid deposition is associated with widespread cognitive impairment in logopenic progressive aphasia 
Most subjects with logopenic primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA) have beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposition on Pittsburgh Compound B PET (PiB-PET), usually affecting prefrontal and temporoparietal cortices, with less occipital involvement.
To assess clinical and imaging features in lvPPA subjects with unusual topographic patterns of Aβ deposition with highest uptake in occipital lobe.
Thirty-three lvPPA subjects with Aβ deposition on PiB-PET were included in this case-control study. Line-plots of regional PiB uptake were created, including frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital regions, for each subject. Subjects in which the line sloped downwards in occipital lobe (lvPPA-low), representing low uptake, were separated from those where the line sloped upwards in occipital lobe (lvPPA-high), representing unusually high occipital uptake compared to other regions. Clinical variables, atrophy on MRI, hypometabolism on F18-fluorodeoxyglucose PET, and presence and distribution of microbleeds and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) were assessed.
Seventeen subjects (52%) were classified as lvPPA-high. Mean occipital PiB uptake in lvPPA-high was higher than all other regions, and higher than all regions in lvPPA-low. The lvPPA-high subjects performed more poorly on cognitive testing, including executive and visuospatial testing, but the two groups did not differ in aphasia severity. Proportion of microbleeds and WMH was higher in lvPPA-high than lvPPA-low. Parietal hypometabolism was greater in lvPPA-high than lvPPA-low.
Unusually high occipital Aβ deposition is associated with widespread cognitive impairment and different imaging findings in lvPPA. These findings help explain clinical heterogeneity in lvPPA, and suggest that Aβ influences severity of overall cognitive impairment but not aphasia.
PMCID: PMC3920541  PMID: 23946416
8.  Cognitive Deficits and Reduced Insight in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a form of dementia caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Unlike aphasia due to stroke, in which the association between particular aphasia profiles and insight has been well characterized, this relationship has not been investigated in PPA. Reduced insight is seen in other neurological conditions, but tends to involve right hemisphere damage, whereas PPA is predominantly a left hemisphere disorder. The aim of the current study was to examine whether fluent aphasia with less meaningful speech output, associated with diminished insight in stroke, is also characteristic of PPA patients with reduced insight. Fourteen PPA patients were studied. Results indicated that reduced information content in speech and poor performance on a nonlanguage test, the Pyramids and Palm Trees test, predicted reduced insight. This study has implications for the anatomical network involved in insight and clinical implications in terms of selecting interventions appropriate for individual patients with PPA.
PMCID: PMC2743890  PMID: 18836134
dementia; primary progressive aphasia; insight; awareness; frontotemporal dementia
9.  Verb and noun deficits in stroke-induced and primary progressive aphasia: The Northwestern Naming Battery1 
Aphasiology  2012;26(5):632-655.
Word class naming deficits are commonly seen in aphasia resulting from stroke (StrAph) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA), with differential production of nouns (objects) and verbs (actions) found based on StrAph type or PPA variant for some individuals. Studies to date, however, have not compared word class naming (or comprehension) ability in the two aphasic disorders. In addition, there are no available measures for testing word class deficits, which control for important psycholinguistic variables across language domains. This study examined noun and verb production and comprehension in individuals with StrAph and PPA using a new test, the Northwestern Naming Battery (NNB; Thompson & Weintraub, experimental version), developed explicitly for this purpose. In addition, we tested verb type effects, based on verb argument structure characteristics, which also is addressed by the NNB.
Fifty-two participants with StrAph (33 agrammatic, Broca’s (StrAg); 19 anomic (StrAn)) and 28 PPA (10 agrammatic (PPA-G); 14 logopenic (PPA-L); 4 semantic (PPA-S)) were included in the study. Nouns and verbs were tested in the Confrontation Naming and Auditory Comprehension subtests of the NNB, with scores used to compute noun to verb ratios as well as performance by verb type. Performance patterns within and across StrAph and PPA groups were then examined. The external validity of the NNB also was tested by comparing (a) NNB Noun Naming scores to the Boston Naming Test (BNT; Kaplan, Goodglass, & Weintraub, 1983) and Western Aphasia Battery (WAB-R, Kertesz, 2007) Noun Naming subtest scores, (b) NNB Verb Naming scores to the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination (BDAE; Goodglass, Kaplan & Barresi, 2001) Action Naming score (for StrAph participants only), and (c) NNB Comprehension subtest scores to WAB-R Auditory Comprehension subtest scores.
Outcomes and Results
Both agrammatic (StrAg and PPA-G) groups showed significantly greater difficulty producing verbs compared to nouns, but no comprehension impairment for either word class. Whereas, three of the four PPA-S participants showed poorer noun compared to verb production, as well as comprehension. However, neither the StrAn or PPA-L participants showed significant differences between the two word classes in production or comprehension. In addition, similar to the agrammatic participants, the StrAn participants showed a significant transitivity effect, producing intransitive (one-argument) verbs with greater accuracy than transitive (two- and three-argument) verbs. However, no transitivity effects were found for the PPA-L or PPA-S participants. There were significant correlations between NNB scores and all external validation measures.
These data indicate that the NNB is sensitive to word class deficits in stroke and neurodegenerative aphasia. This is important both clinically for treatment planning and theoretically to inform both psycholinguistic and neural models of language processing.
PMCID: PMC3505449  PMID: 23188949
primary progressive aphasia (PPA); word class deficits; naming deficit patterns; verb argument structure production
10.  Anatomy of Language Impairments in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a clinical dementia syndrome characterized by progressive decline in language function but relative sparing of other cognitive domains. There are three recognized PPA variants: agrammatic, semantic, and logopenic. Although each PPA subtype is characterized by the nature of the principal deficit, individual patients frequently display subtle impairments in additional language domains. The present study investigated the distribution of atrophy related to performance in specific language domains (i.e., grammatical processing, semantic processing, fluency, and sentence repetition) across PPA variants to better understand the anatomical substrates of language. Results showed regionally specific relationships, primarily in the left hemisphere, between atrophy and impairments in language performance. Most notable was the neuroanatomical distinction between fluency and grammatical processing. Poor fluency was associated with regions dorsal to the traditional boundaries of Broca’s area in the inferior frontal sulcus and the posterior middle frontal gyrus, whereas grammatical processing was associated with more widespread atrophy, including the inferior frontal gyrus and supramarginal gyrus. Repetition performance was correlated with atrophy in the posterior superior temporal gyrus. The correlation of atrophy with semantic processing impairment was localized to the anterior temporal poles. Atrophy patterns were more closely correlated with domain-specific performance than with subtype. These results show that PPA reflects a selective disruption of the language network as a whole, with no rigid boundaries between subtypes. Further, these atrophy patterns reveal anatomical correlates of language that could not have been surmised in patients with aphasia resulting from cerebrovascular lesions.
PMCID: PMC3112000  PMID: 21368046
11.  Alzheimer and Frontotemporal Pathology in Subsets of Primary Progressive Aphasia 
Annals of neurology  2008;63(6):709-719.
To identify predictors of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) versus frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathology in primary progressive aphasia (PPA), and determine whether the AD pathology is atypically distributed to fit the aphasic phenotype.
Neuropsychological and neuropathological analyses of 23 consecutive PPA autopsies. All had qualitative determination of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) density. Additional quantitation was done in four of the PPA/AD cases and four AD cases with the typical amnestic dementia of the Alzheimer type.
The sample contained mostly logopenic, agrammatic, and mixed forms of PPA. All six agrammatics had frontotemporal lobar degeneration (five of six with tauopathy). Seven of the 11 logopenics had AD. In logopenics, lower memory scores increased the probability of AD, but there were exceptions. The PPA/AD group showed predominance of entorhinal NFT typical of the amnestic dementia of the Alzheimer type. In the small subgroup examined quantitatively, neocortical NFTs were more numerous in the left hemisphere of PPA/AD. However, the asymmetry was low and inconsistent. Neuritic plaques did not display consistent asymmetry. Apolipoprotein E4, a major risk factor for typical AD, did not predict AD pathology in PPA.
Subtyping PPA helps to predict AD versus frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathology at the group level. However, our results and the literature also indicate that no clinical predictor is completely reliable in individual patients. The inconsistent concordance of NFT distribution with the asymmetric atrophy and the nonamnestic phenotype also raises the possibility that the AD markers encountered at autopsy in PPA may not always reflect the nature of the initiating neurodegenerative process.
PMCID: PMC2858311  PMID: 18412267
12.  Patterns of Breakdown in Spelling in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
The objective of this study is to determine which cognitive processes underlying spelling are most affected in the three variants of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA): Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA), Semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), and Nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA).
23 PPA patients were administered The Johns Hopkins Dysgraphia Battery to assess spelling. Subtests evaluate for effects of word frequency, concreteness, word length, grammatical word class, lexicality (words vs. pseudowords), and “regularity” by controlling for the other variables. Significant effects of each variable were identified with chi square tests. Responses on all spelling to dictation tests were scored by error type. 16 of the 23 subjects also had a high resolution MRI brain scan to identify areas of atrophy.
We identified 4 patterns of spelling that could be explained by damage to one or more cognitive processes underlying spelling. Nine patients (3 unclassifiable, 4 with lvPPA, 2 with svPPA) had dysgraphia explicable by impaired access to lexical representations, with reliance on sublexical phonology-to-orthography conversion (POC). Two patients (with nfvPPA) showed dysgraphia explicable by impaired access to lexical representations and complete disruption of sublexical POC. Seven patients (4 with lvPPA, 1 with svPPA, 2 unclassifiable) showed dysgraphia explicable by impaired access to lexical-semantic representations and/or lexical representations with partially spared sublexical POC mechanisms. Five patients (1 with nfvPPA, 2 with svPPA, 1 with lvPPA, and 1 unclassifiable) showed dysgraphia explicable by impairment of the graphemic buffer.
Any cognitive process underlying spelling can be affected in PPA. Predominance of phonologically plausible errors, more accurate spelling of regular words than irregular words, and more accurate spelling of pseudowords than words (indicating spared POC mechanisms) may indicate a low probability of progression to nfvPPA.
PMCID: PMC2889229  PMID: 20060967
Primary Progressive Aphasia; dysgraphia; spelling errors; neuroimaging; aphasia
13.  Grammatical comprehension deficits in non-fluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia 
Grammatical comprehension difficulty is an essential supporting feature of the non-fluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia (naPPA), but well-controlled clinical measures of grammatical comprehension are unavailable.
To develop a measure of grammatical comprehension and examine this comparatively in PPA variants and behavioural-variant frontotemporal degeneration (bvFTD) and to assess the neuroanatomic basis for these deficits with volumetric grey matter atrophy and whole-brain fractional anisotropy (FA) in white matter tracts.
Case–control study.
Academic medical centre.
39 patients with variants of PPA (naPPA=12, lvPPA=15 and svPPA=12), 27 bvFTD patients without aphasia and 12 healthy controls.
Main outcome measure
Grammatical comprehension accuracy.
Patients with naPPA had selective difficulty understanding cleft sentence structures, while all PPA variants and patients with bvFTD were impaired with sentences containing a centre-embedded subordinate clause. Patients with bvFTD were also impaired understanding sentences involving short-term memory. Linear regressions related grammatical comprehension difficulty in naPPA to left anterior-superior temporal atrophy and reduced FA in corpus callosum and inferior frontal-occipital fasciculus. Difficulty with centre-embedded sentences in other PPA variants was related to other brain regions.
Conclusions and relevance
These findings emphasise a distinct grammatical comprehension deficit in naPPA and associate this with interruption of a frontal-temporal neural network.
PMCID: PMC3925677  PMID: 24039027
Brain and language  2012;127(2):10.1016/j.bandl.2012.10.005.
Non-fluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia (naPPA) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition most prominently associated with slowed, effortful speech. A clinical imaging marker of naPPA is disease centered in the left inferior frontal lobe. We used multimodal imaging to assess large-scale neural networks underlying effortful expression in 15 patients with sporadic naPPA due to frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) spectrum pathology. Effortful speech in these patients is related in part to impaired grammatical processing, and to phonologic speech errors. Gray matter (GM) imaging shows frontal and anterior-superior temporal atrophy, most prominently in the left hemisphere. Diffusion tensor imaging reveals reduced fractional anisotropy in several white matter (WM) tracts mediating projections between left frontal and other GM regions. Regression analyses suggest disruption of three large-scale GM-WM neural networks in naPPA that support fluent, grammatical expression. These findings emphasize the role of large-scale neural networks in language, and demonstrate associated language deficits in naPPA.
PMCID: PMC3610841  PMID: 23218686
primary progressive aphasia; non-fluent; agrammatic; MRI; diffusion tensor imaging; frontotemporal lobar degeneration
Archives of neurology  2009;66(12):1545-1551.
To provide a quantitative algorithm for classifying primary progressive aphasia (PPA) into agrammatic (PPA-G), semantic (PPA-S) and logopenic (PPA-L) variants, each of which is known to have a different probability of association with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) versus frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Prospectively and consecutively enrolled 16 PPA patients tested with neuropsychological instruments and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
University medical center.
PPA patients recruited nationally in the USA as part of a longitudinal study.
A two-dimensional template, reflecting performance on tests of syntax (Northwestern Anagram Test) and lexical semantics (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), classified all 16 patients in concordance with a clinical diagnosis that had been made prior to the administration of the quantitative tests. All three subtypes had distinctly asymmetrical atrophy of the left perisylvian language network. Each subtype also had distinctive peak atrophy sites. Only PPA-G had peak atrophy in the IFG (Broca’s area), only PPA-S had peak atrophy in the anterior temporal lobe, and only PPA-L had peak atrophy in area 37.
Once an accurate root diagnosis of PPA is made, subtyping can be quantitatively guided using a two-dimensional template based on orthogonal tasks of grammatical competence and word comprehension. Although the choice of tasks and precise cut-off levels may evolve in time, this set of 16 patients demonstrates the feasibility of using a simple algorithm for clinico-anatomical classification in PPA. Prospective studies will show whether this suptyping can improve the clinical prediction of underlying neuropathology.
PMCID: PMC2796598  PMID: 20008661
16.  White Matter atrophy in Alzheimer Disease variants 
In comparison to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LO-AD, onset > 65), early age-of-onset Alzheimer’s disease (EO-AD, onset<65 years) more often presents with language, visuospatial and/or executive impairment, often occurring earlier than a progressive memory deficit. The logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia (lv-PPA) and the posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) have recently been described as possible atypical variants of EO-AD. Lv-PPA is characterized by isolated language deficit, while PCA is characterized by predominant visuospatial deficits. Severe hemispheric grey matter (GM) atrophy associated with EO-AD, lv-PPA and PCA has been described, but regional patterns of white matter (WM) damage are still poorly understood.
Using structural MRI and voxel-based morphometry, we investigated WM damage in 16 EO-AD, 13 PCA, 10 lv-PPA, and 14 LO-AD patients at presentation, and 72 age-matched controls.
In EO-AD, PCA and lv-PPA patients, WM atrophy was centered on lateral temporal and parietal regions, including cingulum and posterior corpus callosum. Compared to controls, lv-PPA patients showed a more severe left parietal damage, and PCA showed a more severe occipital atrophy. Moreover, EO-AD had greater cingulum atrophy compared with LO-AD. LO-AD showed WM damage in medial temporal regions and less extensive hemispheric involvement.
Patterns of WM damage in EO-AD, lv-PPA and PCA are consistent with the clinical syndromes and GM atrophy patterns. WM injury in AD atypical variants may contribute to symptoms and disease pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3717610  PMID: 23021625
Alzheimer’s disease; white matter damage; cerebral network; age of onset; VBM
17.  Semantic Interference during Object Naming in Agrammatic and Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) 
Brain and Language  2012;120(3):237-250.
This study examined the time course of object naming in 21 individuals with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) (8 agrammatic (PPA-G); 13 logopenic (PPA-G)) and healthy age-matched speakers (n=17) using a semantic interference paradigm with related and unrelated interfering stimuli presented at stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) of −1000, −500, −100 and 0 ms. Results showed semantic interference (SI) (i.e. significantly slower RTs in related compared to unrelated conditions) for all groups at −500, −100 and 0 ms, indicating timely spreading activation to semantic competitors. However, both PPA groups showed a greater magnitude of SI than normal across SOAs. The PPA-L group and six PPA-G participants also evinced SI at −1000 ms, suggesting an abnormal time course of semantic interference resolution, and concomitant left hemisphere cortical atrophy in brain regions associated with semantic processing. These subtle semantic mapping impairments in non-semantic variants of PPA may contribute to the anomia of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3299898  PMID: 22244508
primary progressive aphasia; semantic interference; word interference paradigms; naming deficits in primary progressive aphasia; Free Surfer; cortical thickness
18.  Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and the Risk of Institutionalization and Death: The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study 
To examine the association of neuropsychiatric symptoms with risk of institutionalization and death.
Analysis of longitudinal data
The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS)
A sample (n=537) of adults aged 71 or older with cognitive impairment drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS)
The presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, agitation, depression, apathy, elation, anxiety, disinhibition, irritation, and aberrant motor behaviors) and caregiver distress were identified using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Cognitive category was assigned in the ADAMS by a consensus panel. Date of nursing home placement and death, functional limitations, medical comorbidity, and sociodemographics were obtained from the HRS and ADAMS.
Overall, the presence of 1 or more neuropsychiatric symptoms was not associated with a significantly higher risk for either institutionalization or death during the 5-year study period. However, when assessing each symptom individually, the presence of depression, delusions, and agitation were each associated with a significantly higher risk of institutionalization (HR, 3.06; 95% CI, 1.09-8.59 for depression; HR, 5.74; 95% CI, 1.94-16.96 for clinically significant delusions; HR, 4.70; 95% CI, 1.07-20.70 for clinically significant agitation). The association of delusions and agitation with institutionalization was mediated by caregiver distress. The presence of depression and hallucinations were each associated with a significantly higher mortality (HR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.08-2.26 for depression; HR, 2.59; 95% CI, 1.09-6.16 for clinically significant hallucinations).
Some, but not all, neuropsychiatric symptoms are associated with a higher risk of institutionalization and death among those with cognitive impairment, and some are additionally influenced by caregiver distress. Interventions that better target and treat the neuropsychiatric symptoms of depression, delusions, agitation, and hallucinations, as well as caregiver distress, may help delay or prevent these negative clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3088883  PMID: 21391937
neuropsychiatric symptoms; caregiver distress; institutionalization; mortality
19.  White Matter Disease Correlates with Lexical Retrieval Deficits in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
Objective: To relate fractional anisotropy (FA) changes associated with the semantic and logopenic variants of primary progressive aphasia (PPA) to measures of lexical retrieval.
Methods: We collected neuropsychological testing, volumetric magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion-weighted imaging on semantic variant PPA (svPPA) (n = 11) and logopenic variant PPA (lvPPA) (n = 13) patients diagnosed using published criteria. We also acquired neuroimaging data on a group of demographically comparable healthy seniors (n = 34). FA was calculated and analyzed using a white matter (WM) tract-specific analysis approach. This approach utilizes anatomically guided data reduction to increase sensitivity and localizes results within canonically defined tracts. We used non-parametric, cluster-based statistical analysis to relate language performance to FA and determine regions of reduced FA in patients.
Results: We found widespread FA reductions in WM for both variants of PPA. FA was related to both confrontation naming and category naming fluency performance in left uncinate fasciculus and corpus callosum in svPPA and left superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi in lvPPA.
Conclusion: SvPPA and lvPPA are associated with distinct disruptions of a large-scale network implicated in lexical retrieval, and the WM disease in each phenotype may contribute to language impairments including lexical retrieval.
PMCID: PMC3873600  PMID: 24409166
frontotemporal dementia; primary progressive aphasia; diffusion-weighted MRI; magnetic resonance imaging; neuropsychology
20.  Logopenic and Nonfluent Variants of Primary Progressive Aphasia Are Differentiated by Acoustic Measures of Speech Production 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89864.
Differentiation of logopenic (lvPPA) and nonfluent/agrammatic (nfvPPA) variants of Primary Progressive Aphasia is important yet remains challenging since it hinges on expert based evaluation of speech and language production. In this study acoustic measures of speech in conjunction with voxel-based morphometry were used to determine the success of the measures as an adjunct to diagnosis and to explore the neural basis of apraxia of speech in nfvPPA. Forty-one patients (21 lvPPA, 20 nfvPPA) were recruited from a consecutive sample with suspected frontotemporal dementia. Patients were diagnosed using the current gold-standard of expert perceptual judgment, based on presence/absence of particular speech features during speaking tasks. Seventeen healthy age-matched adults served as controls. MRI scans were available for 11 control and 37 PPA cases; 23 of the PPA cases underwent amyloid ligand PET imaging. Measures, corresponding to perceptual features of apraxia of speech, were periods of silence during reading and relative vowel duration and intensity in polysyllable word repetition. Discriminant function analyses revealed that a measure of relative vowel duration differentiated nfvPPA cases from both control and lvPPA cases (r2 = 0.47) with 88% agreement with expert judgment of presence of apraxia of speech in nfvPPA cases. VBM analysis showed that relative vowel duration covaried with grey matter intensity in areas critical for speech motor planning and programming: precentral gyrus, supplementary motor area and inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally, only affected in the nfvPPA group. This bilateral involvement of frontal speech networks in nfvPPA potentially affects access to compensatory mechanisms involving right hemisphere homologues. Measures of silences during reading also discriminated the PPA and control groups, but did not increase predictive accuracy. Findings suggest that a measure of relative vowel duration from of a polysyllable word repetition task may be sufficient for detecting most cases of apraxia of speech and distinguishing between nfvPPA and lvPPA.
PMCID: PMC3938536  PMID: 24587083
Annals of neurology  2008;64(4):388-401.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is found at autopsy in up to one-third of patients with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), but clinical features that predict AD pathology in PPA are not well defined. We studied the relationships between language presentation, Aβ amyloidosis and glucose metabolism in three variants of PPA using [11C]PIB and [18F]FDG-PET.
Patients meeting PPA criteria (N=15) were classified as logopenic aphasia (LPA), progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) or semantic dementia (SD) based on language testing. [11C]PIB distribution volume ratios were calculated using Logan graphical analysis (cerebellar reference). [18F]FDG images were normalized to pons. Partial volume correction was applied.
Elevated cortical PIB (by visual inspection) was more common in LPA (4/4 patients) than in PNFA (1/6) and SD (1/5) (p<0.02). In all PIB-positive cases, PIB uptake was diffuse and indistinguishable from the pattern in matched AD patients (N=10). FDG patterns were focal and varied by PPA subtype, with left temporoparietal hypometabolism in LPA, left frontal hypometabolism in PNFA, and left anterior temporal hypometabolism in SD. FDG patterns in PIB-positive PNFA and SD were similar to PIB-negative cases. Language regions showed asymmetric left hypometabolism in PPA (p<0.005) but not in AD.
LPA is associated with Aβ amyloidosis, suggesting that sub-classification of PPA based on language features can help predict the likelihood of underlying AD pathology. Language phenotype in PPA is closely related to metabolic changes that are focal and anatomically distinct between subtypes, but not to amyloid deposition patterns that are diffuse and similar to AD.
PMCID: PMC2648510  PMID: 18991338
22.  In vivo signatures of nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia caused by FTLD pathology 
Neurology  2014;82(3):239-247.
To identify early cognitive and neuroimaging features of sporadic nonfluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA) caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) subtypes.
We prospectively collected clinical, neuroimaging, and neuropathologic data in 11 patients with sporadic nfvPPA with FTLD-tau (nfvPPA-tau, n = 9) or FTLD–transactive response DNA binding protein pathology of 43 kD type A (nfvPPA-TDP, n = 2). We analyzed patterns of cognitive and gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) atrophy at presentation in the whole group and in each pathologic subtype separately. We also considered longitudinal clinical data.
At first evaluation, regardless of pathologic FTLD subtype, apraxia of speech (AOS) was the most common cognitive feature and atrophy involved the left posterior frontal lobe. Each pathologic subtype showed few distinctive features. At presentation, patients with nfvPPA-tau presented with mild to moderate AOS, mixed dysarthria with prominent hypokinetic features, clear agrammatism, and atrophy in the GM of the left posterior frontal regions and in left frontal WM. While speech and language deficits were prominent early, within 3 years of symptom onset, all patients with nfvPPA-tau developed significant extrapyramidal motor signs. At presentation, patients with nfvPPA-TDP had severe AOS, dysarthria with spastic features, mild agrammatism, and atrophy in left posterior frontal GM only. Selective mutism occurred early, when general neurologic examination only showed mild decrease in finger dexterity in the right hand.
Clinical features in sporadic nfvPPA caused by FTLD subtypes relate to neurodegeneration of GM and WM in frontal motor speech and language networks. We propose that early WM atrophy in nfvPPA is suggestive of FTLD-tau pathology while early selective GM loss might be indicative of FTLD-TDP.
PMCID: PMC3902758  PMID: 24353332
23.  Neuropsychiatric symptoms and global functional impairment along the Alzheimer’s continuum 
Neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are highly prevalent. We sought to determine whether neuropsychiatric symptoms were related to global functional impairment at baseline and over a 3 year period in normal older control (NC), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and mild AD dementia subjects.
Eight hundred and twelve subjects (229 NC, 395 MCI, 188 AD) from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study underwent 3 years of cognitive and behavioral assessments.
Greater hallucinations, anxiety, and apathy were associated with greater global functional impairment at baseline, while baseline hallucinations and apathy were associated with greater global functional impairment over time across all subjects. The following neuropsychiatric symptoms were not significantly associated with global functioning: delusions, agitation, depression, euphoria, disinhibition, irritability, aberrant motor behaviors, sleep, and appetite.
These results suggest that increased baseline hallucinations and apathy are associated with current and future disease progression in AD.
PMCID: PMC3549662  PMID: 22922821
Alzheimer’s disease; anxiety; apathy; disease progression; hallucinations; MCI; Neuropsychiatric Symptoms
24.  Alzheimer's pathology in primary progressive aphasia 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(4-2):744-752.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative disorder with language impairment as the primary feature. Different subtypes have been described and the 3 best characterized are progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD) and logopenic/phonological aphasia (LPA). Of these subtypes, LPA is most commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, the features of PPA associated with AD have not been fully defined. Here we retrospectively identified 14 patients with PPA and either pathologically confirmed AD or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers consistent with AD. Analysis of neurological and neuropsychological features revealed that all patients had a syndrome of LPA with relatively nonfluent spontaneous speech, phonemic errors, and reduced digit span; most patients also had impaired verbal episodic memory. Analysis of the pattern of cortical thinning in these patients revealed left posterior superior temporal, inferior parietal, medial temporal, and posterior cingulate involvement and in patients with more severe disease, increasing involvement of left anterior temporal and frontal cortices and right hemisphere areas in the temporo-parietal junction, posterior cingulate, and medial temporal lobe. We propose that LPA may be a “unihemispheric” presentation of AD, and discuss this concept in relation to accumulating evidence concerning language dysfunction in AD.
PMCID: PMC3314936  PMID: 20580129
Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Primary progressive aphasia; Logopenic aphasia; Progressive nonfluent aphasia; Alzheimer's disease
Lancet Neurology  2012;11(6):545-555.
In an era of disease-modifying treatments, the non-fluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia (naPPA) may help screen for a specific cause of neurodegenerative disease. However, there are controversies surrounding the identification of naPPA. This review describes the characteristic features associated with this discrete, young-onset neurodegenerative condition. Patients with naPPA have a distinct limitation in language emphasizingtheir poor grammatical comprehension and expression, as well as a disorder of speech sound production. Imaging studies associate an impairment of this uniquely human language capacity with disruption of a large-scale neural network centered in left inferior frontal and anterior-superior temporal regions. This corresponds to thepathologic burden of disease anatomically focused in left inferior frontal and anterior-superior temporal regions. A review of the histopathology underlying naPPA relates this condition to frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum pathology involving the microtubule-associated protein tau in a majority of cases. While much work remains to be done, these observations point to unique clinical-pathological correlations that can advance care for an important class of diseases while supplementing our knowledge of human cognitive neuroscience.
PMCID: PMC3361730  PMID: 22608668

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