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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2007 May;13(3):386-92.

Magnetic resonance imaging correlates of set shifting.

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Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between lobar volumes and set shifting. We studied 101 subjects, including 36 normal controls, 16 patients with probable Alzheimer's disease, 30 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and 19 patients with semantic dementia (SD), using a shifting paradigm that carefully controlled for component abilities. Subjects were administered two conditions of the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) Design Fluency Test. In the control condition (DF:Control), examinees generated as many unique designs as possible in 60 s by drawing lines connecting only unfilled dots. In the switching condition (DF:Switch), examinees generated designs by drawing lines alternating between filled and unfilled dots. We used BRAINS2 software to generate volumes of the right and left frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Partial correlations and multiple regressions showed that, after controlling for Mini-Mental State Examination and DF:Control, only the right and left frontal lobe volumes significantly correlated with the DF:Switch, most clearly in the FTD and SD groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that frontal contributions to shifting were not related to working memory. Results highlight the importance of carefully controlling for component cognitive processes when studying executive functioning.

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