Erin K Zimmerman

Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, United States

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Publications (3)6.48 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is accompanied by smell dysfunction, as measured by psychophysical tests. Currently, it is unknown whether AD-related alterations in central olfactory system neural activity, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), are detectable beyond those observed in healthy elderly. Moreover, it is not known whether such changes are correlated with indices of odor perception and dementia. To investigate these issues, 12 early stage AD patients and 13 nondemented controls underwent fMRI while being exposed to each of three concentrations of lavender oil odorant. All participants were administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2), and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR). The blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal at primary olfactory cortex (POC) was weaker in AD than in HC subjects. At the lowest odorant concentration, the BOLD signals within POC, hippocampus, and insula were significantly correlated with UPSIT, MMSE, DRS-2, and CDR scores. The BOLD signal intensity and activation volume within the POC increased significantly as a function of odorant concentration in the AD group, but not in the control group. These findings demonstrate that olfactory fMRI is sensitive to the AD-related olfactory and cognitive functional decline.
    Brain research 10/2010; 1357:184-94. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate maturational plasticity of fluid cognition systems, functional brain imaging was undertaken in healthy 8–19 year old participants while completing visuospatial relational reasoning problems similar to Raven’s matrices and current elementary grade math textbooks. Analyses revealed that visuospatial relational reasoning across this developmental age range recruited activations in the superior parietal cortices most prominently, the dorsolateral prefrontal, occipital–temporal, and premotor/supplementary cortices, the basal ganglia, and insula. There were comparable activity volumes in left and right hemispheres for nearly all of these regions. Regression analyses indicated increasing activity predominantly in the superior parietal lobes with developmental age. In contrast, multiple anterior neural systems showed significantly less activity with age, including dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal, paracentral, and insula cortices bilaterally, basal ganglia, and particularly large clusters in the midline anterior cingulate/medial frontal cortex, left middle cingulate/supplementary motor cortex, left insula-putamen, and left caudate. Findings suggest that neuromaturational changes associated with visuospatial relational reasoning shift from a more widespread fronto-cingulate-striatal pattern in childhood to predominant parieto-frontal activation pattern in late adolescence.
    Brain and Cognition 02/2009; 69:1-10. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive deficits associated with frontal lobe dysfunction can occur in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), particularly in individuals with bulbar ALS who can also suffer pathologic emotional lability. Because frontal pathophysiology can alter emotional perception, we examined whether emotional perception deficits occur in ALS, and whether they are related to depressive or dementia symptoms. Bulbar ALS participants (n=13) and age-matched healthy normal controls (n=12) completed standardized tests of facial emotional and prosodic recognition, the Geriatric Depression Scale, and the Mini-Mental State Examination. Participants identified the basic emotion (happy, sad, angry, afraid, surprised, disgusted) that matched 39 facial expressions and 28 taped, semantically neutral, intoned sentences. ALS patients performed significantly worse than controls on facial recognition but not on prosodic recognition. Eight of 13 patients (62%) scored below the 95% confidence interval of controls in recognizing facial emotions, and 3 of these patients (23% overall) also scored lower in prosody recognition. Among the 8 patients with emotional perceptual impairment, one-half did not have depressive, or memory or cognitive symptoms on screening, whereas the remainder showed dementia symptoms alone or together with depressive symptoms. Emotional recognition deficits occur in bulbar ALS, particularly with emotional facial expressions, and can arise independent of depressive and dementia symptoms or comorbid with depression and dementia. These findings expand the scope of cognitive dysfunction detected in ALS, and bolsters the view of ALS as a multisystem disorder involving cognitive and also motor deficits.
    Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology 07/2007; 20(2):79-82. · 1.19 Impact Factor