Musicophilia, or abnormal craving for music, is a poorly understood phenomenon that has been associated in particular with focal degeneration of the temporal lobes. Here we addressed the brain basis of musicophilia using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) on MR volumetric brain images in a retrospectively ascertained cohort of patients meeting clinical consensus criteria for frontotemporal lobar degeneration: of 37 cases ascertained, 12 had musicophilia, and 25 did not exhibit the phenomenon. The syndrome of semantic dementia was relatively over-represented among the musicophilic subgroup. A VBM analysis revealed significantly increased regional gray matter volume in left posterior hippocampus in the musicophilic subgroup relative to the non-musicophilic group (p < 0.05 corrected for regional comparisons); at a relaxed significance threshold (p < 0.001 uncorrected across the brain volume) musicophilia was associated with additional relative sparing of regional gray matter in other temporal lobe and prefrontal areas and atrophy of gray matter in posterior parietal and orbitofrontal areas. The present findings suggest a candidate brain substrate for musicophilia as a signature of distributed network damage that may reflect a shift of hedonic processing toward more abstract (non-social) stimuli, with some specificity for particular neurodegenerative pathologies.
music; musicophilia; craving; frontotemporal dementia; degeneration
Deficits of flavour processing may be clinically important in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
To examine flavour processing in FTLD.
We studied flavour identification prospectively in 25 patients with FTLD (12 with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), eight with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), five with non-fluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA)) and 17 healthy control subjects, using a new test based on cross-modal matching of flavours to words and pictures. All subjects completed a general neuropsychological assessment, and odour identification was also assessed using a modified University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test. Brain MRI volumes from the patient cohort were analysed using voxel-based morphometry to identify regional grey matter associations of flavour identification.
Relative to the healthy control group, the bvFTD and svPPA subgroups showed significant (p<0.05) deficits of flavour identification and all three FTLD subgroups showed deficits of odour identification. Flavour identification performance did not differ significantly between the FTLD syndromic subgroups. Flavour identification performance in the combined FTLD cohort was significantly (p<0.05 after multiple comparisons correction) associated with grey matter volume in the left entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus and temporal pole.
Certain FTLD syndromes are associated with impaired flavour identification and this is underpinned by grey matter atrophy in an anteromedial temporal lobe network. These findings may have implications for our understanding of abnormal eating behaviour in these diseases.
Cognition; Dementia; Neuropsychology; MRI; Neuroanatomy
•How proteinopathies damage brain networks is a key issue in neurodegenerative disease.•Here, we outline a solution based on the concept of ‘molecular nexopathies’.•The concept is founded on specific interactions of network and protein properties.•This new paradigm has far-reaching biological and clinical implications.
Neural networks provide candidate substrates for the spread of proteinopathies causing neurodegeneration, and emerging data suggest that macroscopic signatures of network disintegration differentiate diseases. However, how do protein abnormalities produce network signatures? The answer may lie with ‘molecular nexopathies’: specific, coherent conjunctions of pathogenic protein and intrinsic network characteristics that define network signatures of neurodegenerative pathologies. Key features of the paradigm that we propose here include differential intrinsic network vulnerability to propagating protein abnormalities, in part reflecting developmental structural and functional factors; differential vulnerability of neural connection types (e.g., clustered versus distributed connections) to particular pathogenic proteins; and differential impact of molecular effects (e.g., toxic-gain-of-function versus loss-of-function) on gradients of network damage. The paradigm has implications for understanding and predicting neurodegenerative disease biology.
neurodegeneration; dementia; neural network; nexopathy
As an example of complex auditory signal processing, the analysis of accented speech is potentially vulnerable in the progressive aphasias. However, the brain basis of accent processing and the effects of neurodegenerative disease on this processing are not well understood. Here we undertook a detailed neuropsychological study of a patient, AA with progressive nonfluent aphasia, in whom agnosia for accents was a prominent clinical feature. We designed a battery to assess AA's ability to process accents in relation to other complex auditory signals. AA's performance was compared with a cohort of 12 healthy age and gender matched control participants and with a second patient, PA, who had semantic dementia with phonagnosia and prosopagnosia but no reported difficulties with accent processing. Relative to healthy controls, the patients showed distinct profiles of accent agnosia. AA showed markedly impaired ability to distinguish change in an individual's accent despite being able to discriminate phonemes and voices (apperceptive accent agnosia); and in addition, a severe deficit of accent identification. In contrast, PA was able to perceive changes in accents, phonemes and voices normally, but showed a relatively mild deficit of accent identification (associative accent agnosia). Both patients showed deficits of voice and environmental sound identification, however PA showed an additional deficit of face identification whereas AA was able to identify (though not name) faces normally. These profiles suggest that AA has conjoint (or interacting) deficits involving both apperceptive and semantic processing of accents, while PA has a primary semantic (associative) deficit affecting accents along with other kinds of auditory objects and extending beyond the auditory modality. Brain MRI revealed left peri-Sylvian atrophy in case AA and relatively focal asymmetric (predominantly right sided) temporal lobe atrophy in case PA. These cases provide further evidence for the fractionation of brain mechanisms for complex sound analysis, and for the stratification of progressive aphasia syndromes according to the signature of nonverbal auditory deficits they produce.
•Deficits of accent processing can be a presenting feature of primary progressive aphasia.•Accent agnosia can dissociate from a generalised auditory agnosia.•Progressive aphasia syndromes show different profiles of accent processing deficits.
Primary progressive aphasia; Dementia; Accent processing; Phonagnosia; Prosopagnosia
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (c9FTD/ALS). We now report the first description of a homozygous patient and compare it to a series of heterozygous cases. The patient developed early-onset frontotemporal dementia without additional features. Neuropathological analysis showed c9FTD/ALS characteristics, with abundant p62-positive inclusions in the frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampus and cerebellum, as well as less abundant TDP-43-positive inclusions. Overall, the clinical and pathological features were severe, but did not fall outside the usual disease spectrum. Quantification of C9orf72 transcript levels in post-mortem brain demonstrated expression of all known C9orf72 transcript variants, but at a reduced level. The pathogenic mechanisms by which the hexanucleotide repeat expansion causes disease are unclear and both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms may play a role. Our data support a gain-of-function mechanism as pure homozygous loss of function would be expected to lead to a more severe, or completely different clinical phenotype to the one described here, which falls within the usual range. Our findings have implications for genetic counselling, highlighting the need to use genetic tests that distinguish C9orf72 homozygosity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1147-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
C9orf72; ALS; FTD
Despite considerable recent interest, the biological basis and clinical diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) pose unresolved problems. Mentalising (the cognitive capacity to interpret the behaviour of oneself and others in terms of mental states) is impaired as a prominent feature of bvFTD, consistent with involvement of brain regions including ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (PFC), orbitofrontal cortex and anterior temporal lobes. Here, we investigated mentalising ability in a cohort of patients with bvFTD using a novel modality: music. We constructed a novel neuropsychological battery requiring attribution of affective mental or non-mental associations to musical stimuli. Mentalising performance of patients with bvFTD (n = 20) was assessed in relation to matched healthy control subjects (n = 20); patients also had a comprehensive assessment of behaviour and general neuropsychological functions. Neuroanatomical correlates of performance on the experimental tasks were investigated using voxel-based morphometry of patients' brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Compared to healthy control subjects, patients showed impaired ability to attribute mental states but not non-mental characteristics to music, and this deficit correlated with performance on a standard test of social inference and with carer ratings of patients' empathic capacity, but not with other potentially relevant measures of general neuropsychological function. Mentalising performance in the bvFTD group was associated with grey matter changes in anterior temporal lobe and ventro-medial PFC. These findings suggest that music can represent surrogate mental states and the ability to construct such mental representations is impaired in bvFTD, with potential implications for our understanding of the biology of bvFTD and human social cognition more broadly.
Mentalising; Theory of mind; Music; Frontotemporal dementia
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
The neurobiological basis of personality is poorly understood.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) frequently presents with complex
behavioural changes, and therefore potentially provides a disease model in
which to investigate brain substrates of personality.
To assess neuroanatomical correlates of personality change in a cohort of
individuals with FTLD using voxel-based morphometry (VBM).
Thirty consecutive individuals fulfilling consensus criteria for FTLD were
assessed. Each participant’s carer completed a Big Five Inventory (BFI)
questionnaire on five key personality traits; for each trait, a change score
was derived based on current compared with estimated premorbid
characteristics. All participants underwent volumetric brain magnetic
resonance imaging. A VBM analysis was implemented regressing change score for
each trait against regional grey matter volume across the FTLD group.
The FTLD group showed a significant decline in extraversion, agreeableness,
conscientiousness and openness and an increase in neuroticism. Change in
particular personality traits was associated with overlapping profiles of grey
matter loss in more anterior cortical areas and relative preservation of grey
matter in more posterior areas; the most robust neuroanatomical correlate was
identified for reduced conscientiousness in the region of the posterior
superior temporal gyrus.
Quantitative measures of personality change in FTLD can be correlated with
changes in regional grey matter. The neuroanatomical profiles for particular
personality traits overlap brain circuits previously implicated in aspects of
social cognition and suggest that dysfunction at the level of distributed
cortical networks underpins personality change in FTLD.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration are rare diseases characterized by ubiquitin-positive inclusions lacking transactive response DNA-binding protein-43 and tau. Recently, mutations in the fused in sarcoma gene have been shown to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal inclusions have subsequently been demonstrated in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions. Here we provide clinical, imaging, morphological findings, as well as genetic and biochemical data in 14 fused in sarcoma proteinopathy cases. In this cohort, the age of onset was variable but included cases of young-onset disease. Patients with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions all presented with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, while the clinical presentation in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease was more heterogeneous, including cases with motor neuron disease and extrapyramidal syndromes. Neuroimaging revealed atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes as well as the caudate in the cases with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, but was more heterogeneous in the cases with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, often being normal to visual inspection early on in the disease. The distribution and severity of fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and neurites were recorded and fused in sarcoma was biochemically analysed in both subgroups. Fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the hippocampal granule cell layer in variable numbers. Cortical fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions were often ‘Pick body-like’ in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, and annular and crescent-shaped inclusions were seen in both conditions. Motor neurons contained variable numbers of compact, granular or skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in all fused in sarcoma-positive cases in which brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons were available for study (five and four cases, respectively). No fused in sarcoma mutations were found in any cases. Biochemically, two major fused in sarcoma species were found and shown to be more insoluble in the atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions subgroup compared with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. There is considerable overlap and also significant differences in fused in sarcoma-positive pathology between the two subgroups, suggesting they may represent a spectrum of the same disease. The co-existence of fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in both motor neurons and extramotor cerebral structures is a characteristic finding in sporadic fused in sarcoma proteinopathies, indicating a multisystem disorder.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; clinical presentation; neuropathology; biochemistry
Microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) mutations have been shown to underlie frontotemporal dementia and a variety of additional sporadic tauopathies. We identified a rare p.A152T variant in MAPT exon 7 in two (of eight) patients with clinical presentation of parkinsonism and postmortem finding of neurofibrillary tangle pathology. Two siblings of one patient also carried the p.A152T variant, and both have progressive cognitive impairment. Further screening identified the variant in two other cases: one with pathologically confirmed corticobasal degeneration and another with the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease with dementia. The balance of evidence suggests this variant is associated with disease, but the very varied phenotype of the cases with the mutation is not consistent with it being a fully penetrant pathogenic mutation. Interestingly, this variation results in the creation of a new phosphorylation site that could cause reduced microtubule binding. We suggest that the A152T variant is a risk factor associated with the development of atypical neurodegenerative conditions with abnormal tau accumulation.
MAPT; Parkinsonism; Corticobasal degeneration; Genetics; Postencephalitic parkinsonism
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been identified as an important cause of frontotemporal dementia and motor neuron disease; however, the phenotypic spectrum of this entity and its pathophysiologic basis have yet to be fully defined. Psychiatric features may be early and prominent, although a putative cortico-thalamo-cerebellar network has been implicated in the pathogenesis of the clinical phenotype. Differentiation of self from others is a core cognitive operation that could potentially link network disintegration with neuropsychiatric symptoms in C9ORF72-associated frontotemporal dementia.
We undertook a detailed behavioral analysis of self-other attribution in a 67-year-old male patient with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) due to the C9ORF72 expansion by using a novel paradigm requiring differentiation of the effects of self- and non-self-generated actions. The patient's performance was assessed in relation to two older male patients with bvFTD not attributable to the C9ORF72 expansion and four healthy older male subjects.
Compared with the healthy control group, the patient with the C9OFR72 mutation showed a deficit of self-other differentiation that was disproportionate to his otherwise relatively indolent clinical phenotype. The performance of the other patients with bvFTD was similar to that of healthy subjects.
We propose that impaired self-other differentiation is a candidate mechanism for neuropsychiatric decline in association with the C9ORF72 expansion. We offer this preliminary observation as a stimulus to further work.
Accented speech conveys important nonverbal information about the speaker as well as presenting the brain with the problem of decoding a non-canonical auditory signal. The processing of non-native accents has seldom been studied in neurodegenerative disease and its brain basis remains poorly understood. Here we investigated the processing of non-native international and regional accents of English in cohorts of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD; n=20) and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA; n=6) in relation to healthy older control subjects (n=35). A novel battery was designed to assess accent comprehension and recognition and all subjects had a general neuropsychological assessment. Neuroanatomical associations of accent processing performance were assessed using voxel-based morphometry on MR brain images within the larger AD group. Compared with healthy controls, both the AD and PNFA groups showed deficits of non-native accent recognition and the PNFA group showed reduced comprehension of words spoken in international accents compared with a Southern English accent. At individual subject level deficits were observed more consistently in the PNFA group, and the disease groups showed different patterns of accent comprehension impairment (generally more marked for sentences in AD and for single words in PNFA). Within the AD group, grey matter associations of accent comprehension and recognition were identified in the anterior superior temporal lobe. The findings suggest that accent processing deficits may constitute signatures of neurodegenerative disease with potentially broader implications for understanding how these diseases affect vocal communication under challenging listening conditions.
► Deficits of accent comprehension and recognition occur in common dementia syndromes. ► Alzheimer's and nonfluent aphasia patients show distinct accent processing deficits. ► Cortical substrates of accent processing were identified in anterior temporal lobe.
Accent; Voice; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer's disease; Dementia
Purpose of review
Analysis of the auditory environment, source identification and vocal communication all require efficient brain mechanisms for disambiguating, representing and understanding complex natural sounds as ‘auditory objects’. Failure of these mechanisms leads to a diverse spectrum of clinical deficits. Here we review current evidence concerning the phenomenology, mechanisms and brain substrates of auditory agnosias and related disorders of auditory object processing.
Analysis of lesions causing auditory object deficits has revealed certain broad anatomical correlations: deficient parsing of the auditory scene is associated with lesions involving the parieto-temporal junction, while selective disorders of sound recognition occur with more anterior temporal lobe or extra-temporal damage. Distributed neural networks have been increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of such disorders as developmental dyslexia, congenital amusia and tinnitus. Auditory category deficits may arise from defective interaction of spectrotemporal encoding and executive and mnestic processes. Dedicated brain mechanisms are likely to process specialised sound objects such as voices and melodies.
Emerging empirical evidence suggests a clinically relevant, hierarchical and fractionated neuropsychological model of auditory object processing that provides a framework for understanding auditory agnosias and makes specific predictions to direct future work.
auditory object; auditory agnosia; neuropsychology
Semantic dementia (SD) is a unique neurodegenerative syndrome accompanied by relatively selective loss of the meaning of objects and concepts. The brain mechanisms that underpin the syndrome have not been defined: a better understanding of these mechanisms would inform our understanding of both the organisation of the human semantic system and its vulnerability to neurodegenerative disease. In this fMRI study, we investigated brain correlates of sensory object processing in nine patients with SD compared with healthy control subjects, using the paradigm of nonverbal sound. Compared with healthy controls, patients with SD showed differential activation of cortical areas surrounding the superior temporal sulcus, both for perceptual processing of spectrotemporally complex but meaningless sounds and for semantic processing of environmental sound category (animal sounds versus tool sounds). Our findings suggest that defective processing of sound objects in SD spans pre-semantic perceptual processing and semantic category formation. This disease model illustrates that antero-lateral temporal cortical mechanisms are critical for representing and differentiating sound categories. The breakdown of these mechanisms constitutes a network-level functional signature of this neurodegenerative disease.
Dementia; Semantic dementia; fMRI; Auditory perception; Auditory object
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative disorder with language impairment as the primary feature. Different subtypes have been described and the 3 best characterized are progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD) and logopenic/phonological aphasia (LPA). Of these subtypes, LPA is most commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, the features of PPA associated with AD have not been fully defined. Here we retrospectively identified 14 patients with PPA and either pathologically confirmed AD or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers consistent with AD. Analysis of neurological and neuropsychological features revealed that all patients had a syndrome of LPA with relatively nonfluent spontaneous speech, phonemic errors, and reduced digit span; most patients also had impaired verbal episodic memory. Analysis of the pattern of cortical thinning in these patients revealed left posterior superior temporal, inferior parietal, medial temporal, and posterior cingulate involvement and in patients with more severe disease, increasing involvement of left anterior temporal and frontal cortices and right hemisphere areas in the temporo-parietal junction, posterior cingulate, and medial temporal lobe. We propose that LPA may be a “unihemispheric” presentation of AD, and discuss this concept in relation to accumulating evidence concerning language dysfunction in AD.
Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Primary progressive aphasia; Logopenic aphasia; Progressive nonfluent aphasia; Alzheimer's disease
Huntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes motor, cognitive and psychiatric impairment, including an early decline in ability to recognize emotional states in others. The pathophysiology underlying the earliest manifestations of the disease is not fully understood; the objective of our study was to clarify this. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate changes in brain mechanisms of emotion recognition in pre-manifest carriers of the abnormal Huntington's disease gene (subjects with pre-manifest Huntington's disease): 16 subjects with pre-manifest Huntington's disease and 14 control subjects underwent 1.5 tesla magnetic resonance scanning while viewing pictures of facial expressions from the Ekman and Friesen series. Disgust, anger and happiness were chosen as emotions of interest. Disgust is the emotion in which recognition deficits have most commonly been detected in Huntington's disease; anger is the emotion in which impaired recognition was detected in the largest behavioural study of emotion recognition in pre-manifest Huntington's disease to date; and happiness is a positive emotion to contrast with disgust and anger. Ekman facial expressions were also used to quantify emotion recognition accuracy outside the scanner and structural magnetic resonance imaging with voxel-based morphometry was used to assess the relationship between emotion recognition accuracy and regional grey matter volume. Emotion processing in pre-manifest Huntington's disease was associated with reduced neural activity for all three emotions in partially separable functional networks. Furthermore, the Huntington's disease-associated modulation of disgust and happiness processing was negatively correlated with genetic markers of pre-manifest disease progression in distributed, largely extrastriatal networks. The modulated disgust network included insulae, cingulate cortices, pre- and postcentral gyri, precunei, cunei, bilateral putamena, right pallidum, right thalamus, cerebellum, middle frontal, middle occipital, right superior and left inferior temporal gyri, and left superior parietal lobule. The modulated happiness network included postcentral gyri, left caudate, right cingulate cortex, right superior and inferior parietal lobules, and right superior frontal, middle temporal, middle occipital and precentral gyri. These effects were not driven merely by striatal dysfunction. We did not find equivalent associations between brain structure and emotion recognition, and the pre-manifest Huntington's disease cohort did not have a behavioural deficit in out-of-scanner emotion recognition relative to controls. In addition, we found increased neural activity in the pre-manifest subjects in response to all three emotions in frontal regions, predominantly in the middle frontal gyri. Overall, these findings suggest that pathophysiological effects of Huntington's disease may precede the development of overt clinical symptoms and detectable cerebral atrophy.
emotion; Huntington's disease; neurodegenerative disorders; cognitive impairment; functional MRI
In this issue of Neuron, Raj et al. (2012) and Zhou et al. (2012) use graph theory to suggest that neurodegenerative diseases spread diffusively via intrinsic brain networks. These studies provide a powerful model for understanding and predicting disease-specific profiles of neurodegeneration.
Prosody has been little studied in the primary progressive aphasias (PPAs), a group of neurodegenerative disorders presenting with progressive language impairment.
Here we conducted a systematic investigation of different dimensions of prosody processing (acoustic, linguistic and emotional) in a cohort of 19 patients with nonfluent PPA syndromes (11 with progressive nonfluent aphasia, PNFA; five with progressive logopenic/phonological aphasia, LPA; three with progranulin-associated aphasia, GRN-PPA) compared with a group of healthy older controls. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to identify neuroanatomical associations of prosodic functions.
Broadly comparable receptive prosodic deficits were exhibited by the PNFA, LPA and GRN-PPA subgroups, for acoustic, linguistic and affective dimensions of prosodic analysis. Discrimination of prosodic contours was significantly more impaired than discrimination of simple acoustic cues, and discrimination of intonation was significantly more impaired than discrimination of stress at phrasal level. Recognition of vocal emotions was more impaired than recognition of facial expressions for the PPA cohort, and recognition of certain emotions (in particular, disgust and fear) was relatively more impaired than others (sadness, surprise). VBM revealed atrophy associated with acoustic and linguistic prosody impairments in a distributed cortical network including areas likely to be involved in perceptual analysis of vocalisations (posterior temporal and inferior parietal cortices) and working memory (fronto-parietal circuitry). Grey matter associations of emotional prosody processing were identified for negative emotions (disgust, fear, sadness) in a broadly overlapping network of frontal, temporal, limbic and parietal areas.
Taken together, the findings show that receptive prosody is impaired in nonfluent PPA syndromes, and suggest a generic early perceptual deficit of prosodic signal analysis with additional relatively specific deficits (recognition of particular vocal emotions).
Primary progressive aphasia; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Logopenic aphasia; Progranulin; Prosody
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been identified as a major cause of familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration and motor neuron disease, including cases previously identified as linked to chromosome 9. Here we present a detailed retrospective clinical, neuroimaging and histopathological analysis of a C9ORF72 mutation case series in relation to other forms of genetically determined frontotemporal lobar degeneration ascertained at a specialist centre. Eighteen probands (19 cases in total) were identified, representing 35% of frontotemporal lobar degeneration cases with identified mutations, 36% of cases with clinical evidence of motor neuron disease and 7% of the entire cohort. Thirty-three per cent of these C9ORF72 cases had no identified relevant family history. Families showed wide variation in clinical onset (43–68 years) and duration (1.7–22 years). The most common presenting syndrome (comprising a half of cases) was behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, however, there was substantial clinical heterogeneity across the C9ORF72 mutation cohort. Sixty per cent of cases developed clinical features consistent with motor neuron disease during the period of follow-up. Anxiety and agitation and memory impairment were prominent features (between a half to two-thirds of cases), and dominant parietal dysfunction was also frequent. Affected individuals showed variable magnetic resonance imaging findings; however, relative to healthy controls, the group as a whole showed extensive thinning of frontal, temporal and parietal cortices, subcortical grey matter atrophy including thalamus and cerebellum and involvement of long intrahemispheric, commissural and corticospinal tracts. The neuroimaging profile of the C9ORF72 expansion was significantly more symmetrical than progranulin mutations with significantly less temporal lobe involvement than microtubule-associated protein tau mutations. Neuropathological examination in six cases with C9ORF72 mutation from the frontotemporal lobar degeneration series identified histomorphological features consistent with either type A or B TAR DNA-binding protein-43 deposition; however, p62-positive (in excess of TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive) neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in hippocampus and cerebellum were a consistent feature of these cases, in contrast to the similar frequency of p62 and TAR DNA-binding protein-43 deposition in 53 control cases with frontotemporal lobar degeneration–TAR DNA-binding protein. These findings corroborate the clinical importance of the C9ORF72 mutation in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, delineate phenotypic and neuropathological features that could help to guide genetic testing, and suggest hypotheses for elucidating the neurobiology of a culprit subcortical network.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; motor neuron disease; neurodegenerative disorders; neuroimaging; genetics
Parsing of sound sources in the auditory environment or ‘auditory scene analysis’ is a computationally demanding cognitive operation that is likely to be vulnerable to the neurodegenerative process in Alzheimer’s disease. However, little information is available concerning auditory scene analysis in Alzheimer's disease. Here we undertook a detailed neuropsychological and neuroanatomical characterization of auditory scene analysis in a cohort of 21 patients with clinically typical Alzheimer's disease versus age-matched healthy control subjects. We designed a novel auditory dual stream paradigm based on synthetic sound sequences to assess two key generic operations in auditory scene analysis (object segregation and grouping) in relation to simpler auditory perceptual, task and general neuropsychological factors. In order to assess neuroanatomical associations of performance on auditory scene analysis tasks, structural brain magnetic resonance imaging data from the patient cohort were analysed using voxel-based morphometry. Compared with healthy controls, patients with Alzheimer's disease had impairments of auditory scene analysis, and segregation and grouping operations were comparably affected. Auditory scene analysis impairments in Alzheimer's disease were not wholly attributable to simple auditory perceptual or task factors; however, the between-group difference relative to healthy controls was attenuated after accounting for non-verbal (visuospatial) working memory capacity. These findings demonstrate that clinically typical Alzheimer's disease is associated with a generic deficit of auditory scene analysis. Neuroanatomical associations of auditory scene analysis performance were identified in posterior cortical areas including the posterior superior temporal lobes and posterior cingulate. This work suggests a basis for understanding a class of clinical symptoms in Alzheimer's disease and for delineating cognitive mechanisms that mediate auditory scene analysis both in health and in neurodegenerative disease.
Alzheimer's disease; auditory scene analysis; auditory processing; voxel-based morphometry
Voice processing in neurodegenerative disease is poorly understood. Here we undertook a systematic investigation of voice processing in a cohort of patients with clinical diagnoses representing two canonical dementia syndromes: temporal variant frontotemporal lobar degeneration (n = 14) and Alzheimer’s disease (n = 22). Patient performance was compared with a healthy matched control group (n = 35). All subjects had a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment including measures of voice perception (vocal size, gender, speaker discrimination) and voice recognition (familiarity, identification, naming and cross-modal matching) and equivalent measures of face and name processing. Neuroanatomical associations of voice processing performance were assessed using voxel-based morphometry. Both disease groups showed deficits on all aspects of voice recognition and impairment was more severe in the temporal variant frontotemporal lobar degeneration group than the Alzheimer’s disease group. Face and name recognition were also impaired in both disease groups and name recognition was significantly more impaired than other modalities in the temporal variant frontotemporal lobar degeneration group. The Alzheimer’s disease group showed additional deficits of vocal gender perception and voice discrimination. The neuroanatomical analysis across both disease groups revealed common grey matter associations of familiarity, identification and cross-modal recognition in all modalities in the right temporal pole and anterior fusiform gyrus; while in the Alzheimer’s disease group, voice discrimination was associated with grey matter in the right inferior parietal lobe. The findings suggest that impairments of voice recognition are significant in both these canonical dementia syndromes but particularly severe in temporal variant frontotemporal lobar degeneration, whereas impairments of voice perception may show relative specificity for Alzheimer’s disease. The right anterior temporal lobe is likely to have a critical role in the recognition of voices and other modalities of person knowledge.
voice; face; phonagnosia; frontotemporal dementia; Alzheimer’s disease
Despite recent work, the nosology of nonfluent primary progressive aphasia (PPA) remains unresolved.
We describe a clinical and neurolinguistic cross-sectional analysis of a cohort of 24 patients with nonfluent PPA. Patients were initially classified based on analysis of spontaneous speech into 4 groups: apraxia of speech (AOS)/agrammatism (10 patients); AOS/no agrammatism (4 patients); no AOS/agrammatism (3 patients); no AOS/no agrammatism (7 patients). These groups were further characterized using a detailed neurolinguistic and neuropsychological battery. Parkinsonism was present in 3/10 patients in the AOS/agrammatism group. All patients in the no AOS/agrammatism group had mutations in the progranulin (GRN) gene, while 5/7 cases in the no AOS/no agrammatism group had CSF findings compatible with Alzheimer disease.
The groups without AOS showed more severe neurolinguistic impairments for a given disease stage, and sentence comprehension, speech repetition, and reading were impaired in all groups. Prolonged word-finding pauses and impaired single word comprehension were salient features in the no AOS/agrammatism group. Additional impairments of executive function and praxis were present in both groups with agrammatism, and impaired episodic memory was a feature of the no AOS/no agrammatism group.
PPA with AOS is aligned with the syndrome previously designated progressive nonfluent aphasia; agrammatism may emerge as the syndrome evolves, or alternatively, the pure AOS group may be pathophysiologically distinct. PPA without AOS resembles the syndrome designated logopenic/phonologic aphasia; however, there is evidence for a distinct subsyndrome of GRN-associated aphasia. The findings provide a rationale for further longitudinal studies with pathologic correlation.
= Alzheimer disease;
= apraxia of speech;
= Clinical Dementia Rating–sum of boxes;
= logopenic progressive aphasia;
= Mini-Mental State Examination score;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= primary progressive aphasia;
= semantic dementia.
► A study of nonverbal auditory object processing in four dementia syndromes. ► Subjects were assessed using a novel, customised neuropsychological battery. ► Different dementia syndromes lead to distinct auditory processing impairments. ► Evidence is provided for separable stages of nonverbal auditory processing.
The cognition of nonverbal sounds in dementia has been relatively little explored. Here we undertook a systematic study of nonverbal sound processing in patient groups with canonical dementia syndromes comprising clinically diagnosed typical amnestic Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 21), progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA; n = 5), logopenic progressive aphasia (LPA; n = 7) and aphasia in association with a progranulin gene mutation (GAA; n = 1), and in healthy age-matched controls (n = 20). Based on a cognitive framework treating complex sounds as ‘auditory objects’, we designed a novel neuropsychological battery to probe auditory object cognition at early perceptual (sub-object), object representational (apperceptive) and semantic levels. All patients had assessments of peripheral hearing and general neuropsychological functions in addition to the experimental auditory battery. While a number of aspects of auditory object analysis were impaired across patient groups and were influenced by general executive (working memory) capacity, certain auditory deficits had some specificity for particular dementia syndromes. Patients with AD had a disproportionate deficit of auditory apperception but preserved timbre processing. Patients with PNFA had salient deficits of timbre and auditory semantic processing, but intact auditory size and apperceptive processing. Patients with LPA had a generalised auditory deficit that was influenced by working memory function. In contrast, the patient with GAA showed substantial preservation of auditory function, but a mild deficit of pitch direction processing and a more severe deficit of auditory apperception. The findings provide evidence for separable stages of auditory object analysis and separable profiles of impaired auditory object cognition in different dementia syndromes.
Dementia; Auditory perception; Auditory object
Semantic dementia (SD) is a unique syndrome in the frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum. Typically presenting as a progressive, fluent anomic aphasia, SD is the paradigmatic disorder of semantic memory with a characteristic anatomical profile of asymmetric, selective antero-inferior temporal lobe atrophy. Histopathologically, most cases show a specific pattern of abnormal deposition of protein TDP-43. This relatively close clinical, anatomical and pathological correspondence suggests SD as a promising target for future therapeutic trials. Here, we discuss outstanding nosological and neurobiological challenges posed by the syndrome and propose a pathophysiological model of SD based on sequential, regionally determined disintegration of a vulnerable neural network.
Semantic dementia; Semantic primary progressive aphasia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Network
Despite growing clinical and neurobiological interest in the brain mechanisms that process emotion in music, these mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) frequently exhibit clinical syndromes that illustrate the effects of breakdown in emotional and social functioning. Here we investigated the neuroanatomical substrate for recognition of musical emotion in a cohort of 26 patients with FTLD (16 with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, bvFTD, 10 with semantic dementia, SemD) using voxel-based morphometry. On neuropsychological evaluation, patients with FTLD showed deficient recognition of canonical emotions (happiness, sadness, anger and fear) from music as well as faces and voices compared with healthy control subjects. Impaired recognition of emotions from music was specifically associated with grey matter loss in a distributed cerebral network including insula, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex, anterior temporal and more posterior temporal and parietal cortices, amygdala and the subcortical mesolimbic system. This network constitutes an essential brain substrate for recognition of musical emotion that overlaps with brain regions previously implicated in coding emotional value, behavioural context, conceptual knowledge and theory of mind. Musical emotion recognition may probe the interface of these processes, delineating a profile of brain damage that is essential for the abstraction of complex social emotions.
► Emotion recognition from music is impaired in frontotemporal lobar degeneration. ► This deficit is associated with atrophy in a distributed cerebral network. ► This network includes cortical and mesolimbic areas likely to code social emotions.
Music; Emotion; Dementia; Frontotemporal; FTLD; VBM