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Neuroimage. 2011 Jan 15;54(2):1530-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

Fractionating verbal episodic memory in Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA. david.wolk@uphs.upenn.edu

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the neural correlates of different stages of episodic memory function and their modulation by Alzheimer's disease (AD). Several decades of work has supported the role of the medial temporal lobes (MTL) in episodic memory function. However, a more recent work, derived in part from functional neuroimaging studies, has suggested that other brain structures make up a large-scale network that appears to support successful encoding and retrieval of episodic memories. Furthermore, controversy exists as to whether dissociable MTL regions support qualitatively different aspects of memory (hippocampus: contextual memory or 'recollection'; perirhinal/lateral entorhinal cortex: item memory or 'familiarity'). There is limited neuropsychological support for these models and most work in AD only has examined free recall memory measures. We studied the relationship between performance on different stages of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT), a 15-item word list learning task, and structural MRI measures in mild AD patients. Structural measures included hippocampal volume and cortical thickness of several ROIs known to undergo atrophy in AD. Correlation and multiple regression analyses, controlling for age, education, and gender, were performed in 146 mild AD patients (MMSE 23.3±2.0). To evaluate the robustness of these relationships, similar analyses were performed with additional standardized verbal memory measures. Early immediate recall trials (e.g. Trial 1 of the AVLT) were not associated with the size of MTL regions, but correlated most strongly with inferior parietal, middle frontal gyrus, and temporal pole ROIs. After repeated exposure (e.g. Trial 5 of the AVLT), immediate recall was correlated with both MTL and a similar distribution of isocortical structures, but most strongly the temporal pole. For delayed recall, only the hippocampus correlated with performance. In contrast, for delayed recognition discrimination, the perirhinal/entorhinal cortex correlated more strongly than the hippocampus; no other isocortical regions were strongly associated with performance. Convergent results were found for immediate and delayed trials of other memory tests. The current results suggest that a richer understanding of the memory deficits in AD can be gained by examining multiple measures, which tap different aspects of memory function. Furthermore, the present findings are consistent with models hypothesizing different stages of verbal list learning map onto dissociable brain regions. These data have implications for understanding the anatomic basis of processes underlying episodic memory, particularly related to a division of labor within the medial temporal lobes and within the large-scale MTL-cortical memory network.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20832485
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2997155
Free PMC Article

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