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Neuroimage. 2011 Sep 15;58(2):687-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.05.090. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Basal functional connectivity within the anterior temporal network is associated with performance on declarative memory tasks.

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1
Laboratoire Epilepsies et Cognition, INSERM U751, Marseille, France; Centre de Résonance Magnétique Biologique et Médicale (CRMBM), UMR CNRS 6612, Marseille, France. natalina.gour@ap-hm.fr

Abstract

Spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at rest, exhibit a temporally coherent activity thought to reflect functionally relevant networks. Antero-mesial temporal structures are the site of early pathological changes in Alzheimer's disease and have been shown to be critical for declarative memory. Our study aimed at exploring the functional impact of basal connectivity of an anterior temporal network (ATN) on declarative memory. A heterogeneous group of subjects with varying performance on tasks assessing memory was therefore selected, including healthy subjects and patients with isolated memory complaint, amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) and mild Alzheimer's disease (AD). Using Independent Component Analysis on resting-state fMRI, we extracted a relevant anterior temporal network (ATN) composed of the perirhinal and entorhinal cortex, the hippocampal head, the amygdala and the lateral temporal cortex extending to the temporal pole. A default mode network and an executive-control network were also selected to serve as control networks. We first compared basal functional connectivity of the ATN between patients and control subjects. Relative to controls, patients exhibited significantly increased functional connectivity in the ATN during rest. Specifically, voxel-based analysis revealed an increase within the inferior and superior temporal gyrus and the uncus. In the patient group, positive correlations between averaged connectivity values of ATN and performance on anterograde and retrograde object-based memory tasks were observed, while no correlation was found with other evaluated cognitive measures. These correlations were specific to the ATN, as no correlation between performance on memory tasks and the other selected networks was found. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that basal connectivity inside the ATN network has a functional role in object-related, context-free memory. They also suggest that increased connectivity at rest within the ATN could reflect compensatory mechanisms that occur in response to early pathological insult.

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