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Neuropsychologia. 2007 Apr 9;45(8):1791-800. Epub 2007 Jan 18.

Increased cortical recruitment in Huntington's disease using a Simon task.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.


Cognitive deficits in Huntington's disease (HD) have been attributed to neuronal degeneration within the striatum; however, postmortem and structural imaging studies have revealed more widespread morphological changes. To examine the impact of HD-related changes in regions outside the striatum, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in HD to examine brain activation patterns using a Simon task that required a button press response to either congruent or incongruent arrow stimuli. Twenty mild to moderate stage HD patients and 17 healthy controls were scanned using a 3T GE scanner. Data analysis involved the use of statistical parametric mapping software with a random effects analysis model to investigate group differences brain activation patterns compared to baseline. HD patients recruited frontal and parietal cortical regions to perform the task, and also showed significantly greater activation, compared to controls, in the caudal anterior cingulate, insula, inferior parietal lobules, superior temporal gyrus bilaterally, right inferior frontal gyrus, right precuneus/superior parietal lobule, left precentral gyrus, and left dorsal premotor cortex. The significantly increased activation in anterior cingulate-frontal-motor-parietal cortex in HD may represent a primary dysfunction due to direct cell loss or damage in cortical regions, and/or a secondary compensatory mechanism of increased cortical recruitment due to primary striatal deficits.

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