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Patterns of brain activity during a semantic task differentiate normal aging from early Alzheimer's disease

McGeown, William Jonathan; Forbes, H; Shanks, Michael Fraser; Forbes-McKay, Katrina Elaine; Venneri, Annalena; White, Hollie


William Jonathan McGeown

H Forbes

Michael Fraser Shanks

Katrina Elaine Forbes-McKay

Annalena Venneri

Hollie White


In a study of the effects of normal and pathological aging on semantic-related brain activity, 29 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 19 controls subjects (10 young and 9 older controls) performed a version of the Pyramids and Palm Trees Test that had been adapted for use during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Young and older controls activated the left inferior and middle frontal gyri, precuneus and superior parietal lobule. Right frontal and left temporal cortices were activated only in the young. The AD group activated only the left prefrontal and cingulate cortex. Separate analyses of high- and low-performing AD subgroups showed a similar pattern of activation in the left frontal lobe, although activiation was more widespread in low performers. High performers significantly deactivated anterior midline frontal structures, however, while low performers did not. When the older adult and AD groups were combined, there was a significant positive correlation between left frontal and parietal activation and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score (covarying for age), suggesting a disease effect. A significant negative correlation between activation in the left temporal cortex and age (covarying for MMSE score) reflected a possible age effect. These differential effects suggest that semantic activation paradigms might aid diagnosis in those cases for whom conventional assessments lack the necessary sensitivity to detect subtle changes. © 2008 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


McGeown, W. J., Shanks, M. F., Forbes-McKay, K. E., & Venneri, A. (2009). Patterns of brain activity during a semantic task differentiate normal aging from early Alzheimer's disease. Neuroimaging. Psychiatry research, 173(3), 218-227.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 7, 2009
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2009
Publication Date Sep 30, 2009
Print ISSN 0925-4927
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 173
Issue 3
Pages 218-227
Keywords Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging; Psychiatry and Mental health; Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
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