Daniele Mascali, Mauro DiNuzzo, Laura Serra, Silvia Mangia, Bruno Maraviglia, Marco Bozzali, Federico Giove
Subtle semantic deficits can be observed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients even in the early stages of the illness. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that the semantic control network is deregulated in mild AD patients. We assessed the integrity of the semantic control system using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in a cohort of patients with mild AD (n = 38; mean mini-mental state examination = 20.5) and in a group of age-matched healthy controls (n = 19). Voxel-wise analysis spatially constrained in the left fronto-temporal semantic control network identified two regions with altered functional connectivity (FC) in AD patients, specifically in the pars opercularis (POp, BA44) and in the posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG, BA21). Using whole-brain seed-based analysis, we demonstrated that these two regions have altered FC even beyond the semantic control network. In particular, the pMTG displayed a wide-distributed pattern of lower connectivity to several brain regions involved in language-semantic processing, along with a possibly compensatory higher connectivity to the Wernicke’s area. We conclude that in mild AD brain regions belonging to the semantic control network are abnormally connected not only within the network, but also to other areas known to be critical for language processing.
This is a collaborative paper, which is not part of the main scientific output of the project although the support of the EU funding has been acknowledged.