The scope of reference of a word's meaning can be highly variable. We present a novel paradigm to investigate the flexible interpretation of word meaning. We focus on quantifiers such as “many” or “few,” a class of words that depends on number knowledge but can be interpreted in a flexible manner. Healthy young adults performed a truth value judgment task on pictorial arrays of varying amounts of blue and yellow circles, deciding whether the sentence “Many/few of the circles are yellow” was an adequate description of the stimulus. The study consisted of two experiments, one focusing on “many,” one on “few.” Each experiment had three blocks. In a first “baseline” block, each individual's criterion for “many” and “few” was assessed. In a second “adaptation” block, subjects received feedback about their decisions that was different from their initial judgments in an effort to evaluate the flexibility of a subject's interpretation. A third “test” block assessed whether adaptation of quantifier meaning induced in block 2 then was generalized to alter a subject's baseline meaning for “many” and “few.” In Experiment 1, a proportion of yellow circles as small as 40% was reinforced as “many”; in Experiment 2, a proportion of yellow circles as large as 60% was reinforced as “few.” Subjects learned the new criterion for “many” in Experiment 1, which also affected their criterion for “few” although it had never been mentioned. Likewise, in Experiment 2, subjects changed their criterion for “few,” with a comparable effect on the criterion for “many” which was not mentioned. Thus, the meaning of relational quantifiers like “many” and “few” is flexible and can be adapted. Most importantly, adapting the criterion for one quantifier (e.g., “many”) also appeared to affect the reciprocal quantifier (in this case, “few”). Implications of this result for psychological interventions and for investigations of the neurobiology of the language-number interface are discussed.
semantics; quantifiers; decision-making; numerosity; flexibility; learning
Quantitative examinations of speech production in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are rare. To identify language features minimally confounded by a motor disorder, we investigated linguistic and motor sources of impaired sentence expression in ALS, and we related deficits to gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) MRI abnormalities. We analyzed a semi-structured speech sample in 26 ALS patients and 19 healthy seniors for motor- and language-related deficits. Regression analyses related grammaticality to GM atrophy and reduced WM fractional anisotropy (FA). Results demonstrated that ALS patients were impaired relative to controls on quantity of speech, speech rate, speech articulation errors, and grammaticality. Speech rate and articulation errors were related to the patients’ motor impairment, while grammatical difficulty was independent of motor difficulty. This was confirmed in subgroups without dysarthria and without executive deficits. Regressions related grammatical expression to GM atrophy in left inferior frontal and anterior temporal regions and to reduced FA in superior longitudinal and inferior frontal-occipital fasciculi. In conclusion, patients with ALS exhibit multifactorial deficits in sentence expression. They demonstrate a deficit in grammatical expression that is independent of their motor disorder. Impaired grammatical expression is related to disease in a network of brain regions associated with syntactic processing.
Dementia; aphasia; cognitive neuropsychology; language; speech
C9orf72 promoter hypermethylation inhibits the accumulation of pathologies which have been postulated to be neurotoxic. We tested here whether C9orf72 hypermethylation is associated with prolonged disease in C9orf72 mutation carriers. C9orf72 methylation was quantified from brain or blood using methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme digest-qPCR in a cross-sectional cohort of 118 C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers and 19 non-carrier family members. Multivariate regression models were used to determine whether C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with age at onset, disease duration, age at death, or hexanucleotide repeat expansion size. Permutation analysis was performed to determine whether C9orf72 methylation is heritable. We observed a high correlation between C9orf72 methylation across tissues including cerebellum, frontal cortex, spinal cord and peripheral blood. While C9orf72 methylation was not significantly different between ALS and FTD and did not predict age at onset, brain and blood C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with later age at death in FTD (brain: β = 0.18, p = 0.006; blood: β = 0.15, p < 0.001), and blood C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with longer disease duration in FTD (β = 0.03, p = 0.007). Furthermore, C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with smaller hexanucleotide repeat length (β = −16.69, p = 0.033). Finally, analysis of pedigrees with multiple mutation carriers demonstrated a significant association between C9orf72 methylation and family relatedness (p < 0.0001). C9orf72 hypermethylation is associated with prolonged disease in C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers with FTD. The attenuated clinical phenotype associated with C9orf72 hypermethylation suggests that slower clinical progression in FTD is associated with reduced expression of mutant C9orf72. These results support the hypothesis that expression of the hexanucleotide repeat expansion is associated with a toxic gain of function.
Neurodegeneration; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Epigenetics
We often estimate an unknown value based on available relevant information, a process known as cognitive estimation. In this study, we assess the cognitive and neuroanatomic basis for quantitative estimation by examining deficits in patients with focal neurodegenerative disease in frontal and parietal cortex. Executive function and number knowledge are key components in cognitive estimation. Prefrontal cortex has been implicated in multilevel reasoning and planning processes, and parietal cortex has been associated with number knowledge required for such estimations. We administered the Biber cognitive estimation test (BCET) to assess cognitive estimation in 22 patients with prefrontal disease due to behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), to 17 patients with parietal disease due to corticobasal syndrome (CBS) or posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) and 11 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Both bvFTD and CBS/PCA patients had significantly more difficulty with cognitive estimation than controls. MCI were not impaired on BCET relative to controls. Regression analyses related BCET performance to gray matter atrophy in right lateral prefrontal and orbital frontal cortices in bvFTD, and to atrophy in right inferior parietal cortex, right insula, and fusiform cortices in CBS/PCA. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that a frontal-parietal network plays a crucial role in cognitive estimation.
cognitive estimation; behavioral variant frontotemporal degeneration; corticobasal syndrome; posterior cortical atrophy; prefrontal cortices; parietal cortices
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
Linking structural neuroimaging data from multiple modalities to cognitive performance is an important challenge for cognitive neuroscience. In this study we examined the relationship between verbal fluency performance and neuroanatomy in 54 patients with frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) and 15 age-matched controls, all of whom had T1- and diffusion-weighted imaging. Our goal was to incorporate measures of both gray matter (voxel-based cortical thickness) and white matter (fractional anisotropy) into a single statistical model that relates to behavioral performance. We first used eigenanatomy to define data-driven regions of interest (DD-ROIs) for both gray matter and white matter. Eigenanatomy is a multivariate dimensionality reduction approach that identifies spatially smooth, unsigned principal components that explain the maximal amount of variance across subjects. We then used a statistical model selection procedure to see which of these DD-ROIs best modeled performance on verbal fluency tasks hypothesized to rely on distinct components of a large-scale neural network that support language: category fluency requires a semantic-guided search and is hypothesized to rely primarily on temporal cortices that support lexical-semantic representations; letter-guided fluency requires a strategic mental search and is hypothesized to require executive resources to support a more demanding search process, which depends on prefrontal cortex in addition to temporal network components that support lexical representations. We observed that both types of verbal fluency performance are best described by a network that includes a combination of gray matter and white matter. For category fluency, the identified regions included bilateral temporal cortex and a white matter region including left inferior longitudinal fasciculus and frontal–occipital fasciculus. For letter fluency, a left temporal lobe region was also selected, and also regions of frontal cortex. These results are consistent with our hypothesized neuroanatomical models of language processing and its breakdown in FTD. We conclude that clustering the data with eigenanatomy before performing linear regression is a promising tool for multimodal data analysis.
Language; Verbal fluency; Multimodal; FTD
Patients with the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia, also known as semantic dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease have deficits in semantic memory. However, few comparative studies have been performed to determine whether these patient groups have distinct semantic memory impairments. We asked 15 patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and 57 patients with Alzheimer’s disease to judge semantic category membership of coloured photos and printed words that are members of familiar natural and manufactured categories, and we related performance to grey matter atrophy. We found that both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease are significantly impaired on this task. Moreover, patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia had a significantly more prominent deficit for natural objects than their own deficit judging manufactured objects. Both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease had atrophy that included portions of the left temporal lobe. Regression analyses related performance in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia to ventral and medial portions of the left temporal lobe, while regression analyses in Alzheimer’s disease related performance to these ventral and medial temporal areas as well as lateral temporal-parietal regions in the left hemisphere. We conclude that both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease are significantly impaired in a simple category membership judgement task and the selective impairment for natural kinds in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia is related in part to disease in visual association cortex in ventral–medial portions of the left temporal lobe. We discuss factors that may contribute to the semantic memory deficit in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia.
semantic memory; Alzheimer’s disease; semantic dementia; temporal lobe; category-specific
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.
Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have a motor disorder and cognitive difficulties, including difficulty with action verbs. However, the basis for the action verb impairment is unknown. Thirty-six participants with ALS and 22 with Parkinson’s disease (PD) were assessed on a simple, two-alternative forced-choice associativity judgment task, where performance was untimed and did not depend on motor functioning. We probed 120 frequency-matched action verbs, cognition verbs, concrete nouns and abstract nouns. Performance was related to T1 MRI imaging of gray matter atrophy. Patients with ALS were significantly impaired relative to healthy senior control participants only for action verbs. Patients with PD did not differ from controls for all word categories. Regression analyses related action verb performance in ALS to motor-associated cortices, but action verb judgments in PD were not related to cortical atrophy. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that action verb difficulty in ALS is related in part to the degradation of action-related conceptual knowledge represented in motor-associated cortex.
Comprehension; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease
Genome-wide association studies have identified SNPs that are sensitive for tau or TDP-43 pathology in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Neuroimaging analyses have revealed distinct distributions of disease in FTLD patients with genetic mutations. However, genetic influences on neuroanatomical structure in sporadic FTLD have not been assessed. In this report we use novel multivariate tools, eigenanatomy and sparse canonical correlation analysis (SCCAN), to identify associations between SNPs and neuroanatomical structure in sporadic FTLD. MRI analyses revealed that rs8070723 (MAPT) was associated with grey matter variance in the temporal cortex. DTI analyses revealed that rs1768208 (MOBP), rs646776 (near SORT1) and rs5848 (PGRN) were associated with white matter variance in the midbrain and superior longitudinal fasciculus. In an independent autopsy series we observed that rs8070723 and rs1768208 conferred significant risk of tau pathology relative to TDP-43, and rs646776 conferred increased risk of TDP-43 pathology relative to tau. Identified brain regions and SNPs may help provide an in vivo screen for underlying pathology in FTLD and contribute to our understanding of sporadic FTLD.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Neuroimaging; Genetics; Biomarkers
An increasingly varied clinical spectrum of cases with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been identified, and objective criteria for clinical trial eligibility is necessary.
We sought to develop a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of ALS.
Academic medical center.
51 individuals with ALS and 23 individuals with a disorder associated with a four-repeat tauopathy (4R-tau).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE
CSF level of tau phosophorylated at threonine 181 (ptau), and ratio of ptau to total tau (ttau).
Using a cross-validation prediction procedure, we found significantly reduced CSF levels of ptau and ptau:ttau in ALS relative to 4R-tau and to controls. In the validation cohort, the receiver operating characteristic area under the curve for the ptau:ttau ratio was 0.916, and the comparison of ALS to 4R-tau showed sensitivity=92% and specificity=91.7%. Correct classification based on low CSF ptau:ttau was confirmed in 18 (85.7%) of 21 cases with autopsy-proven or genetically-determined disease. In patients with available measures, ptau:ttau in ALS correlated with clinical measures of disease severity such as Mini Mental State Exam (n=51) and ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised (n=42), and regression analyses related ptau:ttau to MRI (n=10) evidence of disease in the corticospinal tract and white matter projections involving prefrontal cortex.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
CSF ptau:ttau may be a candidate biomarker to provide objective support for the diagnosis of ALS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cerebrospinal fluid; phosphorylated tau; biomarker
A disabling impairment of higher-order language function can be seen in patients with Lewy body spectrum disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We focus on script comprehension in patients with Lewy body spectrum disorders. While scripts unfold sequentially, constituent events are thought to contain an internal organization. Executive dysfunction in patients with Lewy body spectrum disorders may interfere with comprehension of this internal structure. We examined 42 patients (30 non-demented PD and 12 mildly demented PDD/DLB patients) and 12 healthy seniors. We presented 22 scripts (e.g., “going fishing”), each consisting of six events. Pilot data from young controls provided the basis for organizing associated events into clusters and arranging them hierarchically into scripts. We measured accuracy and latency to judge the order of adjacent events in the same cluster versus adjacent events in different clusters. PDD/DLB patients were less accurate in their ordering judgments than PD patients and controls. Healthy seniors and PD patients were significantly faster to judge correctly the order of highly associated within-cluster event pairs relative to less closely associated different-cluster event pairs, while PDD/DLB patients did not consistently distinguish between these event-pair types. This relative insensitivity to the clustered-hierarchical organization of events was related to executive impairment and to frontal atrophy as measured by volumetric MRI. These findings extend prior work on script processing to patients with Lewy body spectrum disorders and highlight the potential impact of frontal/executive dysfunction on the daily lives of affected patients.
Parkinson's disease; Parkinson's disease dementia; Dementia with Lewy bodies; Frontal cortex; Executive function; Scripts; Organization; Discourse; Volumetric MRI
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have category-specific semantic memory difficulty for natural relative to manufactured objects. We assessed the basis for this deficit by asking healthy adults and patients to judge whether pairs of words share a feature (e.g. “banana:lemon – COLOR”). In an fMRI study, healthy adults showed gray matter (GM) activation of temporal-occipital cortex (TOC) where visual-perceptual features may be represented, and prefrontal cortex (PFC) which may contribute to feature selection. Tractography revealed dorsal and ventral stream white matter (WM) projections between PFC and TOC. Patients had greater difficulty with natural than manufactured objects. This was associated with greater overlap between diseased GM areas correlated with natural kinds in patients and fMRI activation in healthy adults for natural than manufactured artifacts, and the dorsal WM projection between PFC and TOC in patients correlated only with judgments of natural kinds. Patients thus remained dependent on the same neural network as controls during judgments of natural kinds, despite disease in these areas. For manufactured objects, patients’ judgments showed limited correlations with PFC and TOC GM areas activated by controls, and did not correlate with the PFC-TOC dorsal WM tract. Regions outside of the PFC–TOC network thus may help support patients’ judgments of manufactured objects. We conclude that a large-scale neural network for semantic memory implicates both feature knowledge representations in modality-specific association cortex and heteromodal regions important for accessing this knowledge, and that patients’ relative deficit for natural kinds is due in part to their dependence on this network despite disease in these areas.
semantic; fMRI; DTI; Alzheimer’s; temporal; prefrontal
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.
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.
This study establishes that sparse canonical correlation analysis (SCCAN) identifies generalizable, structural MRI-derived cortical networks that relate to five distinct categories of cognition. We obtain multivariate psychometrics from the domain-specific sub-scales of the Philadelphia Brief Assessment of Cognition (PBAC). By using a training and separate testing stage, we find that PBAC-defined cognitive domains of language, visuospatial functioning, episodic memory, executive control, and social functioning correlate with unique and distributed areas of gray matter (GM). In contrast, a parallel univariate framework fails to identify, from the training data, regions that are also significant in the left-out test dataset. The cohort includes164 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia, semantic variant primary progressive aphasia, nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia, or corticobasal syndrome. The analysis is implemented with open-source software for which we provide examples in the text. In conclusion, we show that multivariate techniques identify biologically-plausible brain regions supporting specific cognitive domains. The findings are identified in training data and confirmed in test data.
Alzheimer disease; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Philadelphia Brief Assessment of Cognition; PBAC; MRI; Sparse canonical correlation analysis
Significant heterogeneity in clinical features of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases with the pathogenic C9orf72 expansion (C9P) have been described. To clarify this issue, we compared a large C9P cohort with carefully matched non-expansion (C9N) cases with a known or highly-suspected underlying TDP-43 proteinopathy.
A retrospective-cohort study using available cross-sectional and longitudinal clinical and neuropsychological data, MRI voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and neuropathological assessment from 64 C9P cases (ALS=31, FTLD=33) and 79 C9N cases (ALS=36, FTLD=43).
C9P cases had an earlier age of onset (p=0.047), and in the subset of deceased patients, an earlier age of death (p=0.014) than C9N. C9P had more rapid progression than C9N: C9P ALS cases had a shortened survival (2.6±0.3 years) compared to C9N ALS (3.8±0.4 years; log-rankλ2=4.183,p=0.041), and C9P FTLD showed a significantly greater annualized rate of decline in letter fluency (4.5±1.3words/year) than C9N FTLD (1.4±0.8words/year, p=0.023). VBM revealed greater atrophy in the right fronto-insular, thalamus, cerebellum and bilateral parietal regions for C9P FTLD relative to C9N FTLD, and regression analysis related verbal fluency scores to atrophy in frontal and parietal regions. Neuropathologic analysis found greater neuronal loss in the mid-frontal cortex in C9P FTLD, and mid-frontal cortex TDP-43 inclusion severity correlated with poor letter fluency performance.
C9P cases may have a shorter survival in ALS and more rapid rate of cognitive decline related to frontal and parietal disease in FTLD. C9orf72 genotyping may provide useful prognostic and diagnostic clinical information for ALS and FTLD patients.
Frontotemporal dementia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9orf72; neuropsychological tests; neuroimaging
Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) may have overlapping clinical presentations despite distinct underlying neuropathologies, thus making in vivo diagnosis challenging. In this study, we evaluate the utility of MRI as a noninvasive screening procedure for the differential diagnosis of AD and FTLD.
We recruited 185 patients with a clinically diagnosed neurodegenerative disease consistent with AD or FTLD who had a lumbar puncture and a volumetric MRI. A subset of 32 patients had genetic or autopsy-confirmed AD or FTLD. We used singular value decomposition to decompose MRI volumes and linear regression and cross-validation to predict CSF total tau (tt) and β-amyloid (Aβ1-42) ratio (tt/Aβ) in patients with AD and patients with FTLD. We then evaluated accuracy of MRI-based predicted tt/Aβ using 4 converging sources including neuroanatomic visualization and categorization of a subset of patients with genetic or autopsy-confirmed AD or FTLD.
Regression analyses showed that MRI-predicted tt/Aβ is highly related to actual CSF tt/Aβ. In each group, both predicted and actual CSF tt/Aβ have extensively overlapping neuroanatomic correlates: low tt/Aβ consistent with FTLD is related to ventromedial prefrontal regions while high tt/Aβ consistent with AD is related to posterior cortical regions. MRI-predicted tt/Aβ is 75% accurate at identifying underlying diagnosis in patients with known pathology and in clinically diagnosed patients with known CSF tt/Aβ levels.
MRI may serve as a noninvasive procedure that can screen for AD and FTLD pathology as a surrogate for CSF biomarkers.
Quantifiers, like “some” or “few,” are frequent in daily language. Linguists posit at least three distinct classes of quantifiers: cardinal quantifiers that rely on numerosity, majority quantifiers that additionally depend on executive resources, and logical quantifiers that rely on perceptual attention. We used BOLD fMRI to investigate the roles of frontal and parietal regions in quantifier comprehension. Participants performed a sentence-picture verification task to determine whether a sentence containing a quantifier accurately describes a picture. A whole-brain analysis identified a network involved in quantifier comprehension: This implicated bilateral inferior parietal, superior parietal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, and right inferior frontal cortex. We then performed region-of-interest analyses to assess the relative contribution of each region for each quantifier class. Inferior parietal cortex was equally activated across all quantifier classes, consistent with prior studies implicating the region for quantifier comprehension due in part to its role in the representation of number knowledge. Right superior parietal cortex was up-regulated in comparison to frontal regions for cardinal and logical quantifiers, but parietal and frontal regions were equally activated for majority quantifiers and each frontal region is most highly activated for majority quantifiers. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that majority quantifiers rely on numerosity mechanisms in parietal cortex and executive mechanisms in frontal cortex. Also, right inferior frontal cortex was up-regulated for logical compared to cardinal quantifiers, which may be related to selection demands associated with logical quantifier comprehension. We conclude that distinct components of a large-scale fronto-parietal network contribute to specific aspects of quantifier comprehension, and that this biologically defined network is consistent with cognitive theories of quantifier meaning.
quantifiers; number knowledge; language; semantic memory; fMRI
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
When making a decision, humans often have to ‘coordinate’—reach the same conclusion—as another individual without explicitly communicating. Relatively, little is known about the neural basis for coordination. Moreover, previous fMRI investigations have supported conflicting hypotheses. One account proposes that individuals coordinate using a ‘gut feeling’ and that this is supported by insula recruitment. Another account proposes that individuals recruit strategic decision-making mechanisms in prefrontal cortex in order to coordinate. We investigate the neural basis for coordination in individuals with behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) who have limitations in social decision-making associated with disease in prefrontal cortex. We demonstrate that bvFTD are impaired at establishing a focal point in a semantic task (e.g. ‘Tell me any boy's name’) that requires coordination relative to a similar, control semantic task that does not. Additionally, coordination limitations in bvFTD are related to cortical thinning in prefrontal cortex. These findings are consistent with behavioral economic models proposing that, beyond a ‘gut feeling’, strategic decision-making contributes to the coordination process, including a probabilistic mechanism that evaluates the salience of a response (e.g. is ‘John’ a frequent boy's name), a hierarchical mechanism that iteratively models an opponent's likely response and a mechanism involved in social perspective taking.
coordination; frontotemporal dementia; MRI; decision making; game theory
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is most commonly associated with TAR-DNA binding protein (TDP-43) or tau pathology at autopsy, but there are no in vivo biomarkers reliably discriminating between sporadic cases. As disease-modifying treatments emerge, it is critical to accurately identify underlying pathology in living patients so that they can be entered into appropriate etiology-directed clinical trials. Patients with tau inclusions (FTLD-TAU) appear to have relatively greater white matter (WM) disease at autopsy than those patients with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). In this paper, we investigate the ability of white matter (WM) imaging to help discriminate between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP during life using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Patients with autopsy-confirmed disease or a genetic mutation consistent with FTLD-TDP or FTLD-TAU underwent multimodal T1 volumetric MRI and diffusion weighted imaging scans. We quantified cortical thickness in GM and fractional anisotropy (FA) in WM. We performed Eigenanatomy, a statistically robust dimensionality reduction algorithm, and used leave-one-out cross-validation to predict underlying pathology. Neuropathological assessment of GM and WM disease burden was performed in the autopsy-cases to confirm our findings of an ante-mortem GM and WM dissociation in the neuroimaging cohort.
ROC curve analyses evaluated classification accuracy in individual patients and revealed 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity for WM analyses. FTLD-TAU had significantly more WM degeneration and inclusion severity at autopsy relative to FTLD-TDP.
These neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations provide converging evidence for greater WM burden associated with FTLD-TAU, and emphasize the role of WM neuroimaging for in vivo discrimination between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP.
To utilize values of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and ß-amyloid obtained from two different analytical immunoassays to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
CSF values of total tau (t-tau) and ß-amyloid (Aß1-42) obtained using the INNOTEST® ELISA were transformed using a linear regression model to equivalent values obtained using the INNO-BIA AlzBio3™ (xMAP Luminex) assay. Cutoff values obtained from the xMAP assay were developed in a series of autopsy-confirmed cases and cross-validated in another series of autopsy-confirmed samples using transformed ELISA values to assess sensitivity and specificity for differentiating AD from FTLD.
Tertiary memory disorders clinics and neuropathological and biomarker core centers.
75 samples from patients with CSF data obtained from both assays were used for transformation of ELISA values. 40 autopsy-confirmed cases (30 AD, 10 FTLD) were used to establish diagnostic cutoff values, and then cross-validated in a second sample set of 21 autopsy-confirmed cases (11 AD, 10 FTLD) with transformed ELISA values.
Main outcome measure
Diagnostic accuracy using transformed biomarker values.
Data obtained from both assays were highly correlated. The t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had the highest correlation between measures (r=0.928, p<0.001) and high reliability of transformation (ICC=0.89). A cutoff of 0.34 for the t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had 90% and 100% sensitivity and 96.7% and 91% specificity to differentiate FTLD cases in the validation and cross-validation samples, respectively.
Values from two analytical platforms can be transformed into equivalent units, which can distinguish AD from FTLD more accurately than the clinical diagnosis.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is associated with impaired executive control. The aim of the current research was to test the hypothesis that concept formation deficits associated with an extra-motor neurocognitive network involving executive and semantic resources can be found in some ALS patients.
Forty-one patients with clinically-definite ALS were assessed with Delis Kaplan Executive Function System Sorting Test (D-KEFS), a measure of concept formation requiring patients to manipulate verbal and visual semantic information and neuropsychological tests measuring naming, semantic memory, and executive control. Using D-KEFS scale scores, a k-mean cluster analysis specifying a 3-group solution was able to classify ALS patients into groups presenting with mildly impaired, average, and above average sorting test performance. High resolution T1 structural MRI was used to examine cortical thickness in a subset of 16 ALS patients.
Step-wise regression analyses related free and recognition sorting test performance to measures of action naming, single word semantic knowledge, and mental search/working memory. MRI studies found widespread cortical thinning involving bilateral frontal, temporal and parietal regions. Regression analyses related recognition sorting performance to reduced MRI cortical thickness involving the left prefrontal and left parietal cortex.
An extra-motor cognitive network is associated with impaired concept formation in ALS.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); executive control; prefrontal cortex; neuropsychology; Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) Sorting Test
We contribute a novel and interpretable dimensionality reduction strategy, eigenanatomy, that is tuned for neuroimaging data. The method approximates the eigendecomposition of an image set with basis functions (the eigenanatomy vectors) that are sparse, unsigned and are anatomically clustered. We employ the eigenanatomy vectors as anatomical predictors to improve detection power in morphometry. Standard voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analyzes imaging data voxel-by-voxel—and follows this with cluster-based or voxel-wise multiple comparisons correction methods to determine significance. Eigenanatomy reverses the standard order of operations by first clustering the voxel data and then using standard linear regression in this reduced dimensionality space. As with traditional region-of-interest (ROI) analysis, this strategy can greatly improve detection power. Our results show that eigenanatomy provides a principled objective function that leads to localized, data-driven regions of interest. These regions improve our ability to quantify biologically plausible rates of cortical change in two distinct forms of neurodegeneration. We detail the algorithm and show experimental evidence of its efficacy.
Traditional neuroanatomic models of language comprehension have emphasized a core language network situated in peri-Sylvian cortex. More recent evidence appears to extend the neuroanatomic network beyond peri-Sylvian cortex to encompass other aspects of sentence processing. In this study, we evaluate the neuroanatomic basis for processing the ambiguity in doubly-quantified sentences. For example, a sentence like “All the dogs jumped in a lake” can be interpreted with a collective interpretation (e.g., several dogs jumping into a single lake) or a distributive interpretation (e.g., several dogs each jumping into a different lake). In Experiment 1, we used BOLD fMRI to investigate neuroanatomic recruitment by young adults during the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences in a sentence-picture verification task. We observed that young adults exhibited a processing cost associated with interpreting ambiguous sentences and this was related to frontal and parietal cortex recruitment. In Experiment 2, we investigate ambiguous sentence processing with the identical materials in non-aphasic patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) who have frontal cortex disease and executive and decision-making limitations. bvFTD patients are insensitive to ambiguity associated with doubly-quantified sentences, and this is related to the magnitude of their frontal cortex disease. These studies provide converging evidence that cortical regions that extend beyond peri-Sylvian cortex help support the processing costs associated with the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences.
language; quantifiers; fMRI; volumetric MRI; frontotemporal dementia