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Front Neurosci. 2017 Jun 14;11:330. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00330. eCollection 2017.

Neural Correlates of Verbal Episodic Memory and Lexical Retrieval in Logopenic Variant Primary Progressive Aphasia.

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Neuroscience Graduate Group, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA, United States.
Neurology, Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration Center, Perelman School of Medicine, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA, United States.
Radiology, Penn Imaging and Computing Science Lab, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA, United States.
Neurology, Penn Memory Center, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA, United States.


Objective: Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA) is commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. But lvPPA patients display different cognitive and anatomical profile from the common clinical AD patients, whose verbal episodic memory is primarily affected. Reports of verbal episodic memory difficulty in lvPPA are inconsistent, and we hypothesized that their lexical retrieval impairment contributes to verbal episodic memory performance and is associated with left middle temporal gyrus atrophy. Methods: We evaluated patients with lvPPA (n = 12) displaying prominent word-finding and repetition difficulties, and a demographically-matched cohort of clinical Alzheimer's disease (AD, n = 26), and healthy seniors (n = 16). We assessed lexical retrieval with confrontation naming and verbal episodic memory with delayed free recall. Whole-brain regressions related naming and delayed free recall to gray matter atrophy. Medial temporal lobe (MTL) subfields were examined using high in-plane resolution imaging. Results: lvPPA patients had naming and delayed free recall impairments, but intact recognition memory. In lvPPA, delayed free recall was related to naming; both were associated with left middle temporal gyrus atrophy but not MTL atrophy. Despite cerebrospinal fluid evidence consistent with AD pathology, examination of MTL subfields revealed no atrophy in lvPPA. While AD patients displayed impaired delayed free recall, this deficit did not correlate with naming. Regression analyses related delayed free recall deficits in clinical AD patients to MTL subfield atrophy, and naming to left middle temporal gyrus atrophy. Conclusion: Unlike amnestic AD patients, MTL subfields were not affected in lvPPA patients. Verbal episodic memory deficit observed in lvPPA was unlikely to be due to a hippocampal-mediated mechanism but appeared to be due to poor lexical retrieval. Relative sparing of MTL volume and intact recognition memory are consistent with previous reports of hippocampal-sparing variant cases of AD pathology, where neurofibrillary tangles are disproportionately distributed in cortical areas with relative sparing of the hippocampus. This suggests that AD neuropathology in lvPPA may originate in neuronal networks outside of the MTL, which deviates from the typical Braak staging pattern of spreading pathology in clinical AD.


Alzheimer's disease; hippocampal subfields; lexical retrieval; logopenic primary progressive aphasia; verbal episodic memory

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