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β-Amyloid Deposition Is Associated with Decreased Right Prefrontal Activation during Task Switching among Cognitively Normal Elderly

Oh, Hwamee; Steffener, Jason; Razlighi, Qolamreza R.; Habeck, Christian G.; Stern, Yaakov

The accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), has been associated with functional alterations, often in an episodic memory system with a particular emphasis on medial temporal lobe function. The topography of Aβ deposition, however, largely overlaps with frontoparietal control (FPC) regions implicated in cognitive control that has been shown to be impaired in early mild AD. To understand the neural mechanism underlying early changes in cognitive control with AD, we examined the impact of Aβ deposition on task-evoked FPC activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans. Forty-three young and 62 cognitively normal older adults underwent an fMRI session during an executive contextual task in which task difficulty varied: single (either letter case or vowel/consonant judgment task) vs dual (switching between letter case and vowel/consonant decisions) task. Older subjects additionally completed 18F-florbetaben positron emission tomography scans and were classified as either amyloid positive (Aβ+) or negative (Aβ−). Consistent with previous reports, age-related increases in brain activity were found in FPC regions commonly identified across groups. For both task conditions, Aβ-related increases in brain activity were found compared with baseline activity. For higher cognitive control load, however, Aβ+ elderly showed reduced task-switching activation in the right inferior frontal cortex. Our findings suggest that with Aβ deposition, brain activation in the cognitive control region reaches a maximum with lower control demand and decreases with higher control demand, which may underlie early impairment in cognitive control with AD progression.


Also Published In

The Journal of Neuroscience

More About This Work

Academic Units
Taub Institute
Sergievsky Center
Society for Neuroscience
Published Here
February 23, 2016