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.
diffusion tensor imaging; frontal tracts; primary progressive aphasia; speech production; tractography; white matter
To use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to assess gray matter and white matter tract diffusion in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SMD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA).
This was a case-control study where 16 subjects with bvFTD, 7 with PNFA, and 4 with SMD were identified and matched by age and gender to 19 controls. All subjects had 3-T head MRI with a DTI sequence with diffusion encoding in 21 directions. Gray matter mean diffusivity (MD) was assessed using a region-of-interest (ROI) and voxel-level approach, and voxel-based morphometry was used to assess patterns of gray matter loss. White matter tract diffusivity (fractional anisotropy and radial diffusivity) was assessed by placing ROIs on tracts of interest.
In bvFTD, increased gray matter MD and gray matter loss were identified bilaterally throughout frontal and temporal lobes, with abnormal diffusivity observed in white matter tracts that connect to these regions. In SMD, gray matter loss and increased MD were identified predominantly in the left temporal lobe, with tract abnormalities observed in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus. In PNFA, gray matter loss and increased MD were observed in left inferior frontal lobe, insula, and supplemental motor area, with tract abnormalities observed in the superior longitudinal fasciculus.
The diffusivity of gray matter is increased in regions that are atrophic in frontotemporal dementia, suggesting disruption of the cytoarchitecture of remaining tissue. Furthermore, damage was identified in white matter tracts that interconnect these regions, supporting the hypothesis that these diseases involve different and specific brain networks.
= automated anatomic labeling;
= anterior cingulate;
= Alzheimer's Disease Research Center;
= Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry;
= apraxia of speech;
= behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia;
= coefficient of variation;
= axial diffusivity;
= radial diffusivity;
= diffusion tensor imaging;
= fractional anisotropy;
= false discovery rate;
= field of view;
= frontotemporal dementia;
= full-width at half-maximum;
= genu of the corpus callosum;
= high-dimensional warping;
= inferior longitudinal fasciculus;
= mean diffusivity;
= magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo;
= posterior cingulate;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= partial volume correction;
= region of interest;
= superior longitudinal fasciculus;
= semantic dementia;
= uncinate fasciculus.
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.
Primary progressive aphasia; DTI; Networks; White matter
Primary progressive aphasia is a neurodegenerative clinical syndrome that presents in adulthood with an isolated, progressive language disorder. Three main clinical/anatomical variants have been described, each associated with distinctive pathology. A high frequency of neurodevelopmental learning disability in primary progressive aphasia has been reported. Because the disorder is heterogeneous with different patterns of cognitive, anatomical and biological involvement, we sought to identify whether learning disability had a predilection for one or more of the primary progressive aphasia subtypes. We screened the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center's primary progressive aphasia cohort (n = 198) for history of language-related learning disability as well as hand preference, which has associations with learning disability. The study included logopenic (n = 48), non-fluent (n = 54) and semantic (n = 96) variant primary progressive aphasias. We investigated whether the presence of learning disability or non-right-handedness was associated with differential effects on demographic, neuropsychological and neuroimaging features of primary progressive aphasia. We showed that a high frequency of learning disability was present only in the logopenic group (χ2 = 15.17, P < 0.001) and (χ2 = 11.51, P < 0.001) compared with semantic and non-fluent populations. In this group, learning disability was associated with earlier onset of disease, more isolated language symptoms, and more focal pattern of left posterior temporoparietal atrophy. Non-right-handedness was instead over-represented in the semantic group, at nearly twice the prevalence of the general population (χ2 = 6.34, P = 0.01). Within semantic variant primary progressive aphasia the right-handed and non-right-handed cohorts appeared homogeneous on imaging, cognitive profile, and structural analysis of brain symmetry. Lastly, the non-fluent group showed no increase in learning disability or non-right-handedness. Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia and developmental dyslexia both manifest with phonological disturbances and posterior temporal involvement. Learning disability might confer vulnerability of this network to early-onset, focal Alzheimer’s pathology. Left-handedness has been described as a proxy for atypical brain hemispheric lateralization. As non-right-handedness was increased only in the semantic group, anomalous lateralization mechanisms might instead be related to frontotemporal lobar degeneration with abnormal TARDBP. Taken together, this study suggests that neurodevelopmental signatures impart differential trajectories towards neurodegenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; dementia aphasia; case control study; risk factors in epidemiology
There are few studies examining praxis in subjects with primary progressive aphasia. The aim of this study was to examine the pattern and severity of ideomotor apraxia in subjects with logopenic and agrammatic variants of primary progressive aphasia and to determine if the presence of ideomotor apraxia correlated with specific neuroanatomical structural abnormalities. Subjects with primary progressive aphasia were prospectively recruited and classified according to published criteria. Using the apraxia subtest of the Western Aphasia Battery, pattern and severity of ideomotor apraxia was examined in all subjects diagnosed with agrammatic and logopenic variants of primary progressive aphasia. The study included 47 subjects, 21 diagnosed with agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia and 26 with logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. Subjects with agrammatic aphasia were older at onset than the logopenic variant (67.2 versus 61.7 years, p=0.02), but there was no difference in illness duration prior to evaluation. Those with logopenic aphasia showed more cognitive impairment on the Mini-Mental Status Examination (agrammatic=26.7/30, logopenic=22/30, p=0.002), and a trend for more severe language impairment as measured by Western Aphasia Battery-Aphasia Quotient (agrammatic=82.3, logopenic=75.2, p=0.11). Strong correlations were found between Western Aphasia Battery-Aphasia Quotient and total apraxia, instrumental apraxia, and complex apraxia, while average correlation were seen with upper limb apraxia and modest correlation with facial apraxia. After adjusting for age, mental status performance, and Western Aphasia Battery-Aphasia Quotient score, those with agrammatic aphasia had a higher degree of total apraxia (p=0.004), facial apraxia (p=0.03), instrumental apraxia (p=0.0006), and complex apraxia (p=0.0006) than those with logopenic aphasia. The agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia was associated with greater praxis deficits but less cognitive impairment than the logopenic variant. The presence of ideomotor apraxia was associated with grey matter loss in the left lateral premotor cortex with extension into the motor cortex. These findings suggest that although some affected areas in the agrammatic and logopenic variants of primary progressive aphasia overlap, there exists an area that is more affected in the agrammatic variant than the logopenic variant that accounts for the greater association of agrammatic aphasia with apraxia.
Primary progressive aphasia; Agrammatic; Logopenic; Apraxia; Ideomotor; Cortical atrophy
The factors driving clinical heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood. This study assessed the relationship between amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism and clinical phenotype in Alzheimer’s disease, and investigated how these relate to the involvement of functional networks. The study included 17 patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (age at onset <65 years), 12 patients with logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia and 13 patients with posterior cortical atrophy [whole Alzheimer’s disease group: age = 61.5 years (standard deviation 6.5 years), 55% male]. Thirty healthy control subjects [age = 70.8 (3.3) years, 47% male] were also included. Subjects underwent positron emission tomography with 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose. All patients met National Institute on Ageing–Alzheimer’s Association criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease and showed evidence of amyloid deposition on 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography. We hypothesized that hypometabolism patterns would differ across variants, reflecting involvement of specific functional networks, whereas amyloid patterns would be diffuse and similar across variants. We tested these hypotheses using three complimentary approaches: (i) mass-univariate voxel-wise group comparison of 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose and 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B; (ii) generation of covariance maps across all subjects with Alzheimer’s disease from seed regions of interest specifically atrophied in each variant, and comparison of these maps to functional network templates; and (iii) extraction of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose values from functional network templates. Alzheimer’s disease clinical groups showed syndrome-specific 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose patterns, with greater parieto-occipital involvement in posterior cortical atrophy, and asymmetric involvement of left temporoparietal regions in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. In contrast, all Alzheimer’s disease variants showed diffuse patterns of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding, with posterior cortical atrophy additionally showing elevated uptake in occipital cortex compared with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The seed region of interest covariance analysis revealed distinct 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose correlation patterns that greatly overlapped with the right executive-control network for the early-onset Alzheimer’s disease region of interest, the left language network for the logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia region of interest, and the higher visual network for the posterior cortical atrophy region of interest. In contrast, 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B covariance maps for each region of interest were diffuse. Finally, 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose was similarly reduced in all Alzheimer’s disease variants in the dorsal and left ventral default mode network, whereas significant differences were found in the right ventral default mode, right executive-control (both lower in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and posterior cortical atrophy than logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia) and higher-order visual network (lower in posterior cortical atrophy than in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia), with a trend towards lower 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose also found in the left language network in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. There were no differences in 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding between syndromes in any of the networks. Our data suggest that Alzheimer’s disease syndromes are associated with degeneration of specific functional networks, and that fibrillar amyloid-β deposition explains at most a small amount of the clinico-anatomic heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; posterior cortical atrophy; logopenic variant of PPA; positron emission tomography (PET); functional networks
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.
Primary progressive aphasia; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Logopenic aphasia
Cognitive deficits in semantic dementia have been attributed to anterior temporal lobe grey matter damage; however, key aspects of the syndrome could be due to altered anatomical connectivity between language pathways involving the temporal lobe. The aim of this study was to investigate the left language-related cerebral pathways in semantic dementia using diffusion tensor imaging-based tractography and to combine the findings with cortical anatomical and functional magnetic resonance imaging data obtained during a reading activation task. The left inferior longitudinal fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus and fronto-parietal superior longitudinal fasciculus were tracked in five semantic dementia patients and eight healthy controls. The left uncinate fasciculus and the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum were also obtained for comparison with previous studies. From each tract, mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy, as well as parallel and transverse diffusivities were obtained. Diffusion tensor imaging results were related to grey and white matter atrophy volume assessed by voxel-based morphometry and functional magnetic resonance imaging activations during a reading task. Semantic dementia patients had significantly higher mean diffusivity, parallel and transverse in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus. The arcuate and uncinate fasciculi demonstrated significantly higher mean diffusivity, parallel and transverse and significantly lower fractional anisotropy. The fronto-parietal superior longitudinal fasciculus was relatively spared, with a significant difference observed for transverse diffusivity and fractional anisotropy, only. In the corpus callosum, the genu showed lower fractional anisotropy compared with controls, while no difference was found in the splenium. The left parietal cortex did not show significant volume changes on voxel-based morphometry and demonstrated normal functional magnetic resonance imaging activation in response to reading items that stress sublexical phonological processing. This study shows that semantic dementia is associated with anatomical damage to the major superior and inferior temporal white matter connections of the left hemisphere likely involved in semantic and lexical processes, with relative sparing of the fronto-parietal superior longitudinal fasciculus. Fronto-parietal regions connected by this tract were activated normally in the same patients during sublexical reading. These findings contribute to our understanding of the anatomical changes that occur in semantic dementia, and may further help to explain the dissociation between marked single-word and object knowledge deficits, but sparing of phonology and fluency in semantic dementia.
semantic dementia; semantic knowledge; diffusion tensor-based tractography; functional MRI; voxel-based morphometry
A brief speech expression protocol that can be administered and scored without special training would aid in the differential diagnosis of the 3 principal forms of primary progressive aphasia (PPA): nonfluent/agrammatic PPA, logopenic variant PPA, and semantic variant PPA.
We used a picture-description task to elicit a short speech sample, and we evaluated impairments in speech-sound production, speech rate, lexical retrieval, and grammaticality. We compared the results with those obtained by a longer, previously validated protocol and further validated performance with multimodal imaging to assess the neuroanatomical basis of the deficits.
We found different patterns of impaired grammar in each PPA variant, and additional language production features were impaired in each: nonfluent/agrammatic PPA was characterized by speech-sound errors; logopenic variant PPA by dysfluencies (false starts and hesitations); and semantic variant PPA by poor retrieval of nouns. Strong correlations were found between this brief speech sample and a lengthier narrative speech sample. A composite measure of grammaticality and other measures of speech production were correlated with distinct regions of gray matter atrophy and reduced white matter fractional anisotropy in each PPA variant.
These findings provide evidence that large-scale networks are required for fluent, grammatical expression; that these networks can be selectively disrupted in PPA syndromes; and that quantitative analysis of a brief speech sample can reveal the corresponding distinct speech characteristics.
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.
frontotemporal dementia; primary progressive aphasia; diffusion-weighted MRI; magnetic resonance imaging; neuropsychology
The frontal aslant tract is a direct pathway connecting Broca’s region with the anterior cingulate and pre-supplementary motor area. This tract is left lateralized in right-handed subjects, suggesting a possible role in language. However, there are no previous studies that have reported an involvement of this tract in language disorders. In this study we used diffusion tractography to define the anatomy of the frontal aslant tract in relation to verbal fluency and grammar impairment in primary progressive aphasia. Thirty-five patients with primary progressive aphasia and 29 control subjects were recruited. Tractography was used to obtain indirect indices of microstructural organization of the frontal aslant tract. In addition, tractography analysis of the uncinate fasciculus, a tract associated with semantic processing deficits, was performed. Damage to the frontal aslant tract correlated with performance in verbal fluency as assessed by the Cinderella story test. Conversely, damage to the uncinate fasciculus correlated with deficits in semantic processing as assessed by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Neither tract correlated with grammatical or repetition deficits. Significant group differences were found in the frontal aslant tract of patients with the non-fluent/agrammatic variant and in the uncinate fasciculus of patients with the semantic variant. These findings indicate that degeneration of the frontal aslant tract underlies verbal fluency deficits in primary progressive aphasia and further confirm the role of the uncinate fasciculus in semantic processing. The lack of correlation between damage to the frontal aslant tract and grammar deficits suggests that verbal fluency and grammar processing rely on distinct anatomical networks.
aphasia; white matter; language; tractography; dementia; freesurfer; frontal aslant tract; tractography
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is considered primarily a disease of grey matter, although the extent of white matter involvement has not been well described. We used diffusion tensor imaging to study the white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease compared to healthy control subjects and to correlated magnetic resonance imaging findings with histopathology. Twenty-six patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and nine age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects underwent volumetric T1-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging. Six patients had post-mortem brain analysis available for assessment of neuropathological findings associated with prion disease. Parcellation of the subcortical white matter was performed on 3D T1-weighted volumes using Freesurfer. Diffusion tensor imaging maps were calculated and transformed to the 3D-T1 space; the average value for each diffusion metric was calculated in the total white matter and in regional volumes of interest. Tract-based spatial statistics analysis was also performed to investigate the deeper white matter tracts. There was a significant reduction of mean (P = 0.002), axial (P = 0.0003) and radial (P = 0.0134) diffusivities in the total white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mean diffusivity was significantly lower in most white matter volumes of interest (P < 0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons), with a generally symmetric pattern of involvement in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mean diffusivity reduction reflected concomitant decrease of both axial and radial diffusivity, without appreciable changes in white matter anisotropy. Tract-based spatial statistics analysis showed significant reductions of mean diffusivity within the white matter of patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, mainly in the left hemisphere, with a strong trend (P = 0.06) towards reduced mean diffusivity in most of the white matter bilaterally. In contrast, by visual assessment there was no white matter abnormality either on T2-weighted or diffusion-weighted images. Widespread reduction in white matter mean diffusivity, however, was apparent visibly on the quantitative attenuation coefficient maps compared to healthy control subjects. Neuropathological analysis showed diffuse astrocytic gliosis and activated microglia in the white matter, rare prion deposition and subtle subcortical microvacuolization, and patchy foci of demyelination with no evident white matter axonal degeneration. Decreased mean diffusivity on attenuation coefficient maps might be associated with astrocytic gliosis. We show for the first time significant global reduced mean diffusivity within the white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, suggesting possible primary involvement of the white matter, rather than changes secondary to neuronal degeneration/loss.
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is considered primarily a disease of grey matter. However, Caverzasi et al. now show a global decrease in mean diffusivity in white matter. The changes appear to be associated with reactive astrocytic gliosis and activated microglia, and suggest primary involvement of the white matter in sCJD.
DTI; CJD; mean diffusivity; gliosis; microglia
Primary progressive aphasia is a clinical syndrome defined by progressive deficits isolated to speech and/or language, and can be classified into non-fluent, semantic and logopenic variants based on motor speech, linguistic and cognitive features. The connected speech of patients with primary progressive aphasia has often been dichotomized simply as ‘fluent’ or ‘non-fluent’, however fluency is a multidimensional construct that encompasses features such as speech rate, phrase length, articulatory agility and syntactic structure, which are not always impacted in parallel. In this study, our first objective was to improve the characterization of connected speech production in each variant of primary progressive aphasia, by quantifying speech output along a number of motor speech and linguistic dimensions simultaneously. Secondly, we aimed to determine the neuroanatomical correlates of changes along these different dimensions. We recorded, transcribed and analysed speech samples for 50 patients with primary progressive aphasia, along with neurodegenerative and normal control groups. Patients were scanned with magnetic resonance imaging, and voxel-based morphometry was used to identify regions where atrophy correlated significantly with motor speech and linguistic features. Speech samples in patients with the non-fluent variant were characterized by slow rate, distortions, syntactic errors and reduced complexity. In contrast, patients with the semantic variant exhibited normal rate and very few speech or syntactic errors, but showed increased proportions of closed class words, pronouns and verbs, and higher frequency nouns, reflecting lexical retrieval deficits. In patients with the logopenic variant, speech rate (a common proxy for fluency) was intermediate between the other two variants, but distortions and syntactic errors were less common than in the non-fluent variant, while lexical access was less impaired than in the semantic variant. Reduced speech rate was linked with atrophy to a wide range of both anterior and posterior language regions, but specific deficits had more circumscribed anatomical correlates. Frontal regions were associated with motor speech and syntactic processes, anterior and inferior temporal regions with lexical retrieval, and posterior temporal regions with phonological errors and several other types of disruptions to fluency. These findings demonstrate that a multidimensional quantification of connected speech production is necessary to characterize the differences between the speech patterns of each primary progressive aphasic variant adequately, and to reveal associations between particular aspects of connected speech and specific components of the neural network for speech production.
primary progressive aphasia; progressive non-fluent aphasia; semantic dementia; logopenic progressive aphasia; speech production
Apraxia of speech is a disorder of speech motor planning and/or programming that is distinguishable from aphasia and dysarthria. It most commonly results from vascular insults but can occur in degenerative diseases where it has typically been subsumed under aphasia, or it occurs in the context of more widespread neurodegeneration. The aim of this study was to determine whether apraxia of speech can present as an isolated sign of neurodegenerative disease. Between July 2010 and July 2011, 37 subjects with a neurodegenerative speech and language disorder were prospectively recruited and underwent detailed speech and language, neurological, neuropsychological and neuroimaging testing. The neuroimaging battery included 3.0 tesla volumetric head magnetic resonance imaging, [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose and [11C] Pittsburg compound B positron emission tomography scanning. Twelve subjects were identified as having apraxia of speech without any signs of aphasia based on a comprehensive battery of language tests; hence, none met criteria for primary progressive aphasia. These subjects with primary progressive apraxia of speech included eight females and four males, with a mean age of onset of 73 years (range: 49–82). There were no specific additional shared patterns of neurological or neuropsychological impairment in the subjects with primary progressive apraxia of speech, but there was individual variability. Some subjects, for example, had mild features of behavioural change, executive dysfunction, limb apraxia or Parkinsonism. Voxel-based morphometry of grey matter revealed focal atrophy of superior lateral premotor cortex and supplementary motor area. Voxel-based morphometry of white matter showed volume loss in these same regions but with extension of loss involving the inferior premotor cortex and body of the corpus callosum. These same areas of white matter loss were observed with diffusion tensor imaging analysis, which also demonstrated reduced fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity of the superior longitudinal fasciculus, particularly the premotor components. Statistical parametric mapping of the [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scans revealed focal hypometabolism of superior lateral premotor cortex and supplementary motor area, although there was some variability across subjects noted with CortexID analysis. [11C]-Pittsburg compound B positron emission tomography binding was increased in only one of the 12 subjects, although it was unclear whether the increase was actually related to the primary progressive apraxia of speech. A syndrome characterized by progressive pure apraxia of speech clearly exists, with a neuroanatomic correlate of superior lateral premotor and supplementary motor atrophy, making this syndrome distinct from primary progressive aphasia.
primary progressive apraxia of speech; apraxia of speech; primary progressive aphasia; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging; fluorodeoxyglucose; Pittsburg compound B; supplementary motor area
Classical aphasiology, based on the study of stroke sequelae, fuses speech fluency and grammatical ability. Nonfluent (Broca's) aphasia often is accompanied by agrammatism; whereas in the fluent aphasias grammatical deficits are not typical. The assumption that a similar relationship exists in primary progressive aphasia (PPA) has led to the dichotomization of this syndrome into fluent and nonfluent subtypes.
This study compared elements of fluency and grammatical production in the narrative speech of individuals with PPA to determine if they can be dissociated from one another.
Speech samples from 37 individuals with PPA, clinically assigned to agrammatic (N=11), logopenic (N=20) and semantic (N=6) subtypes, and 13 cognitively healthy control participants telling the “Cinderella Story” were analyzed for fluency (i.e., words per minute (WPM) and mean length of utterance in words (MLU-W)) and grammaticality (i.e., the proportion of grammatically correct sentences, open-to-closed-class word ratio, noun-to-verb ratio, and correct production of verb inflection, noun morphology, and verb argument structure.) Between group differences were analyzed for each variable. Correlational analyses examined the relation between WPM and each grammatical variable, and an off-line measure of sentence production.
Outcomes And Results
Agrammatic and logopenic groups both had lower scores on the fluency measures and produced significantly fewer grammatical sentences than did semantic and control groups. However, only the agrammatic group evinced significantly impaired production of verb inflection and verb argument structure. In addition, some semantic participants showed abnormal open-to-closed and noun-to-verb ratios in narrative speech. When the sample was divided on the basis of fluency, all the agrammatic participants fell in the nonfluent category. The logopenic participants varied in fluency but those with low fluency showed variable performance on measures of grammaticality. Correlational analyses and scatter plots comparing fluency and each grammatical variable revealed dissociations within PPA participants, with some nonfluent participants showing normal grammatical skill.
Grammatical production is a complex construct comprised of correct usage of several language components, each of which can be selectively affected by disease. This study demonstrates that individuals with PPA show dissociations between fluency and grammatical production in narrative speech. Grammatical ability, and its relationship to fluency, varies from individual to individual, and from one variant of PPA to another, and can even be found in individuals with semantic PPA in whom a fluent aphasia is usually thought to accompany preserved ability to produce grammatical utterances.
Degeneration of language regions in the dominant hemisphere can result in primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a clinical syndrome characterized by progressive deficits in speech and/or language function. Recent studies have identified three variants of PPA: progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD) and logopenic progressive aphasia (LPA). Each variant is associated with characteristic linguistic features, distinct patterns of brain atrophy, and different likelihoods of particular underlying pathogenic processes, which makes correct differential diagnosis highly clinically relevant. Evaluation of linguistic behavior can be challenging for non-specialists, and neuroimaging findings in single subjects are often difficult to evaluate by eye. We investigated the utility of automated structural MR image analysis to discriminate PPA variants (N=86) from each other and from normal controls (N=115). T1 images were preprocessed to obtain modulated grey matter (GM) images. Feature selection was performed with principal components analysis (PCA) on GM images as well as images of lateralized atrophy. PC coefficients were classified with linear support vector machines, and a cross-validation scheme was used to obtain accuracy rates for generalization to novel cases. The overall mean accuracy in discriminating between pairs of groups was 92.2%. For one pair of groups, PNFA and SD, we also investigated the utility of including several linguistic variables as features. Models with both imaging and linguistic features performed better than models with only imaging or only linguistic features. These results suggest that automated methods could assist in the differential diagnosis of PPA variants, enabling therapies to be targeted to likely underlying etiologies.
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.
Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have demonstrated regional patterns of brain macrostructural atrophy and white matter microstructural alterations separately in the three major subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which includes behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA). This study was to investigate to what extent the pattern of white matter microstructural alterations in FTLD subtypes mirrors the pattern of brain atrophy, and to compare the ability of various diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices in characterizing FTLD patients, as well as to determine whether DTI measures provide greater classification power for FTLD than measuring brain atrophy. Twenty-five patients with FTLD (13 with bvFTD, 6 with SD, and 6 with PNFA) and 19 healthy age-matched control subjects underwent both structural MRI and DTI scans. Measurements of regional brain atrophy were based on T1-weighted MRI data and voxel-based morphometry. Measurements of regional white matter degradation were based on voxelwise as well as regions-of-interest tests of DTI variations, expressed as fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, and radial diffusivity. Compared to controls, bvFTD, SD, and PNFA patients each exhibited characteristic regional patterns of brain atrophy and white matter damage. DTI overall provided significantly greater accuracy for FTLD classification than brain atrophy. Moreover, radial diffusivity was more sensitive in assessing white matter damage in FTLD than other DTI indices. The findings suggest that DTI in general and radial diffusivity in particular are more powerful measures for the classification of FTLD patients from controls than brain atrophy.
Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia; diffusion tensor imaging; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; multimodality MRI; progressive nonfluent aphasia; semantic dementia
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.
primary progressive aphasia; non-fluent; agrammatic; MRI; diffusion tensor imaging; frontotemporal lobar degeneration
The neuropsychological features of the primary progressive aphasia (PPA) syndromes continue to be defined. Here we describe a detailed neuropsychological case study of a patient with a mutation in the progranulin (GRN) gene who presented with progressive word-finding difficulty. Key neuropsychological features in this case included gravely impoverished propositional speech with anomia and prolonged word-finding pauses, impaired speech repetition most marked for sentences, and severely impaired verbal (with preserved spatial) short-term memory. There was a dissociated profile of performance on semantic processing tasks: visual semantic processing was intact, while within the verbal domain, verb comprehension was impaired and processing of nouns was intact on tasks requiring direct semantic processing but impaired on tasks requiring associative or inferential processing. Brain MRI showed asymmetric left cerebral atrophy particularly affecting the temporo-parietal junction, supero-lateral temporal and inferior frontal lobes. This case most closely resembles the PPA syndrome known as the logopenic/phonological aphasia variant (LPA) however there were also deficits of grammar and speech repetition suggesting an overlap with the progressive non-fluent aphasia (agrammatic) variant (PNFA). Certain prominent features of this case (in particular, the profile of semantic impairment) have not been emphasised in previous descriptions of LPA or PNFA, suggesting that GRN may cause an overlapping PPA syndrome but with a distinctive cognitive profile. This neuropsychological evidence suggests that GRN-PPA may result from damage involving the temporo-parietal junction and its functional connections in both the dorsal and ventral language networks, with implications for our understanding of language network pathophysiology.
Primary progressive aphasia; Dementia; Progranulin; Aphasia; Language
The pathology causing progressive aphasia is typically a variant of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, especially with ubiquitin-positive-inclusions (FTLD-U). Less commonly the underlying pathology is Alzheimer disease (AD).
To compare clinicopathological and MRI features of subjects with progressive aphasia and AD pathology, to subjects with aphasia and FTLD-U pathology, and subjects with typical AD.
We identified 5 subjects with aphasia and AD pathology and 5 with aphasia and FTLD-U pathology with an MRI from a total of 216 aphasia subjects. Ten subjects with typical AD clinical features and AD pathology were also identified. All subjects with AD pathology underwent pathological re-analysis with TDP-43 immunohistochemistry. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to assess patterns of grey matter atrophy in the aphasia cases with AD pathology, aphasia cases with FTLD-U, and typical AD cases with AD pathology, compared to a normal control group.
All aphasic subjects had fluent speech output. However, those with AD pathology had better processing speed than those with FTLD-U pathology. Immunohistochemistry with TDP-43 antibodies was negative. VBM revealed grey matter atrophy predominantly in the temporoparietal cortices with notable sparing of the hippocampus in the aphasia with AD subjects. In comparison, the aphasic subjects with FTLD-U showed sparing of the parietal lobe. Typical AD subjects showed temporoparietal and hippocampal atrophy.
A temporoparietal pattern of atrophy on MRI in patients with progressive fluent aphasia and relatively preserved processing speed is suggestive of underlying AD pathology rather than FTLD-U.
Primary progressive aphasia; Progressive non-fluent aphasia; Logopenic progressive aphasia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-only-immunoreactive changes; Voxel based morphometry
Despite considerable interest in improving clinical and neurobiological characterisation of frontotemporal dementia and in defining the role of brain network disintegration in its pathogenesis, information about white matter pathway alterations in frontotemporal dementia remains limited. Here we investigated white matter tract damage using an unbiased, template-based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) protocol in a cohort of 27 patients with the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) representing both major genetic and sporadic forms, in relation both to healthy individuals and to patients with Alzheimer's disease. Widespread white matter tract pathology was identified in the bvFTD group compared with both healthy controls and Alzheimer's disease group, with prominent involvement of uncinate fasciculus, cingulum bundle and corpus callosum. Relatively discrete and distinctive white matter profiles were associated with genetic subgroups of bvFTD associated with MAPT and C9ORF72 mutations. Comparing diffusivity metrics, optimal overall separation of the bvFTD group from the healthy control group was signalled using radial diffusivity, whereas optimal overall separation of the bvFTD group from the Alzheimer's disease group was signalled using fractional anisotropy. Comparing white matter changes with regional grey matter atrophy (delineated using voxel based morphometry) in the bvFTD cohort revealed co-localisation between modalities particularly in the anterior temporal lobe, however white matter changes extended widely beyond the zones of grey matter atrophy. Our findings demonstrate a distributed signature of white matter alterations that is likely to be core to the pathophysiology of bvFTD and further suggest that this signature is modulated by underlying molecular pathologies.
frontotemporal dementia; DTI; tract; tractography; white matter
Alzheimer’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disease often
characterized by initial episodic memory loss. Atypical focal cortical presentations have
been described, including the logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA)
which presents with language impairment, and posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) which
presents with prominent visuospatial deficits. Both lvPPA and PCA are characterized by
specific patterns of hypometabolism: left temporoparietal in lvPPA and bilateral
parietoccipital in PCA. However, not every patient fits neatly into these categories. We
retrospectively identified two patients with progressive aphasia and visuospatial deficits
from a speech and language based disorders study. The patients were further characterized
by MRI, fluorodeoxyglucose F18 and Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission
tomography. Two women, ages 62 and 69, presented with a history of a few years of
progressive aphasia characterized by fluent output with normal grammar and syntax, anomia
without loss of word meaning, and relatively spared repetition. They demonstrated striking
deficits in visuospatial function for which they were lacking insight. Prominent
hypometabolism was noted in the left occipitotemporal region and diffuse retention of PiB
was noted. Posterior cortical atrophy may present focally with left occipitotemporal
metabolism characterized clinically with a progressive fluent aphasia and prominent
ventral visuospatial deficits with loss of insight.
Alzheimer dementia; Aphasia; Functional Neuroimaging; Neuropsychology; Visual agnosia
The logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia is an atypical clinical variant of Alzheimer’s disease which is typically characterized by left temporoparietal atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and hypometabolism on F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography. We aimed to characterize and compare patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism in logopenic primary progressive aphasia, and determine which brain regions and imaging modality best differentiates logopenic primary progressive aphasia from typical dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
A total of 27 logopenic primary progressive aphasia subjects underwent fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and volumetric magnetic resonance imaging. These subjects were matched to 27 controls and 27 subjects with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism were assessed at the voxel and region-level using Statistical Parametric Mapping. Penalized logistic regression analysis was used to determine what combinations of regions best discriminate between groups.
Atrophy and hypometabolism was observed in lateral temporoparietal and medial parietal lobes, left greater than right, and left frontal lobe in the logopenic group. The logopenic group showed greater left inferior, middle and superior lateral temporal atrophy (inferior p = 0.02; middle p = 0.007, superior p = 0.002) and hypometabolism (inferior p = 0.006, middle p = 0.002, superior p = 0.001), and less right medial temporal atrophy (p = 0.02) and hypometabolism (p<0.001), and right posterior cingulate hypometabolism (p<0.001) than dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. An age-adjusted penalized logistic model incorporating atrophy and hypometabolism achieved excellent discrimination (area under the receiver operator characteristic curve = 0.89) between logopenic and dementia of the Alzheimer’s type subjects, with optimal discrimination achieved using right medial temporal and posterior cingulate hypometabolism, left inferior, middle and superior temporal hypometabolism, and left superior temporal volume.
Patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism both differ between logopenic primary progressive aphasia and dementia of the Alzheimer’s type and both modalities provide excellent discrimination between groups.
Previous neuropsychological studies on acquired dyslexia revealed a double dissociation in reading impairments. Patients with phonological dyslexia have selective difficulty reading pseudo-words, while those with surface dyslexia misread exception words. This double dissociation in reading abilities has often been reported in brain damaged patients, but it has not been consistently shown in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
In this study, we investigated reading impairments and their anatomical correlates in various neurodegenerative diseases. First, we performed a behavioral analysis to characterize the reading of different word types in primary progressive aphasia (PPA). Then, we conducted a voxel-based morphometry neuroimaging study to map the brain areas in which gray matter volume correlated with accurate reading of exception and pseudo-words.
The results showed a differential pattern of exception and pseudo-word reading abilities in different clinical variants of PPA. Patients with semantic dementia, a disorder characterized by selective loss of semantic memory, revealed a pattern of surface dyslexia, while patients with logopenic/phonological progressive aphasia, defined by phonological loop deficits, showed phonological dyslexia. Neuroimaging results showed that exception word reading accuracy correlated with gray matter volume in the left anterior temporal structures, including the temporal pole, the anterior superior and middle temporal and fusiform gyri, while pseudo-word reading accuracy correlated with left temporoparietal regions, including the posterior superior and middle temporal and fusiform gyri, and the inferior parietal lobule.
These results suggest that exception and pseudo-word reading not only rely upon different language mechanisms selectively damaged in PPA, but also that these processes are sustained by separate brain structures.
exception words; pseudo-words; neurodegenerative diseases; voxel-based morphometry