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Neuroimage Clin. 2017 May 25;15:408-414. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.05.020. eCollection 2017.

Anosognosia for memory deficits in mild cognitive impairment: Insight into the neural mechanism using functional and molecular imaging.

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Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02114, USA.
Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Department of Radiology, Division of Molecular Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02114, USA.
Department of Neurology, Saint-Luc University Hospital, Institute of Neuroscience, Université Catholique de Louvain, 1200 Brussels, Belgium.
Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, and Division for Cognitive Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Anosognosia, or loss of insight of memory deficits, is a common and striking symptom in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous findings in AD dementia patients suggest that anosognosia is due to both functional metabolic changes within cortical midline structures involved in self-referential processes, as well as functional disconnection between these regions. The present study aims to extend these findings by investigating the neural correlates of anosognosia in the prodromal stage of AD. Here, we used regional brain metabolism (resting state 18-F fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET)) to unravel the metabolic correlates of anosognosia in subjects with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and subsequently resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) to investigate the intrinsic connectivity disruption between brain regions. Thirty-one subjects (mean age: 74.1; Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) global score: 0.5) with aMCI, and 251 cognitively normal (CN) older adults (mean age: 73.3; CDR: 0) were included as a reference group for behavioral and FDG data. An anosognosia index was obtained by calculating a discrepancy score between subjective and objective memory scores. All subjects underwent FDG-PET for glucose metabolism measurement, and aMCI subjects underwent additional rs-fMRI for intrinsic connectivity measurement. Voxel-wise correlations between anosognosia and neuroimaging data were conducted in the aMCI subjects. Subjects with aMCI had significantly decreased memory awareness as compared to the CN older adults. Greater anosognosia in aMCI subjects was associated with reduced glucose metabolism in the posterior cingulate (PCC) cortices and hippocampus. Intrinsic connectivity analyses revealed a significant association between anosognosia and attenuated functional connectivity between the PCC seed region and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) as well as bilateral inferior parietal lobes (IPL). These findings provide further evidence that implicates cortical midline structures and hippocampus in the awareness of memory deficits. Investigating neuroimaging changes that co-vary with memory awareness may improve our ability to identify the cause of anosognosia and ultimately increase our chances for its treatment.


Alzheimer's disease; Anosognosia; Awareness; Magnetic resonance imaging; Mild cognitive impairment; Positron emission tomography

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