Annalena Venneri

The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (138)545.86 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Episodic memory impairment is an early indicator in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Contrastingly, episodic memory is said to be substantially preserved in Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) especially in the early stages of the disease. Nevertheless, recent studies (e.g., Ivaniou et al, 2006) have suggested that the neurodegenerative process in FTD involves hippocampal structures, indicating that impairment in episodic memory, whilst being less severe than that seen in AD, is expected in FTD patients. Method We assessed the neuropsychological test performance of 15 patients with AD and 15 patients with FTD. Both groups were matched for severity of cognitive decline, age and education. Specifically, episodic memory was tested and compared with a paired associates learning (PAL) task and a prose memory task (immediate and delayed (10 minutes) recall). We further analysed the story units and thematic elements recalled by both groups on the prose memory task. Results The overall neuropsychological assessment showed typical profiles in both patient groups. Detailed analysis of the episodic memory tasks showed abnormal scores in both groups, although scores of FTD patients were higher than those of the AD group, both at immediate and delayed recall. FTD patients performed better on thematic element recall than story unit recall, while the AD patients showed the opposite pattern. A similar pattern of deficits was also seen in both groups in the PAL test scores. Discussion The results indicate that FTD patients do present with an episodic memory deficit, which is, however, less severe than that seen in AD patients. The pattern of impairments is however similar and in FTD does not seem to reflect frontal dysfunction since FTD patients, despite poor recall of story units, were still able to organise information sufficiently and recalled a greater number of thematic elements than AD patients.
    Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 01/2012; 33:191. · 2.79 Impact Factor
  • Simona Gardini, Annalena Venneri
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    ABSTRACT: A number of neuroimaging studies have shown that drug addiction is associated with morphological differences in several brain areas, including orbito-frontal and limbic structures. Most of these studies have investigated patients with addiction to cocaine. The neurobiological mechanisms which play a role in drug addiction are not fully understood, however, and the causal factors remain under investigation. The present study investigated morphological differences between patients with history of cocaine (N=14) and heroin (N=24) abuse and healthy matched controls (N=24). A 3D T1W MRI scan was acquired for all participants and the grey matter images of each patient group compared with those of controls. A direct comparison of the two addiction groups was also carried out. When compared with controls cocaine dependent patients had lower grey matter values in the left middle occipital gyrus, right putamen and insula, whereas heroin abusers had lower grey matter values in the right insula. The direct comparison between the two addiction groups showed that cocaine abusers had less grey matter in the right posterior cingulate, medio-temporal and cerebellar regions, whereas heroin abusers showed less grey matter in parietal regions on both sides, including postcentral gyrus and inferior parietal lobule. Reduced right posterior insular cortex was commonly found in both cocaine and heroin dependent patients. This morphological difference might represent a structural marker of addiction, which is independent of the discrete regional effects of each psychotropic substance of abuse, and might constitute a possible neurobiological vulnerability or diathesis to addiction. Equally, the discrete structural differences emerging from the direct comparison of cocaine and heroin abusers might reflect the effects of differential drug binding in the brain and/or express a form of neurobiological vulnerability which might explain individual drug choice.
    Brain research bulletin 12/2011; 87(2-3):205-11. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study investigated high and low suggestible people responding to two visual hallucination suggestions with and without a hypnotic induction. Participants in the study were asked to see color while looking at a grey image, and to see shades of grey while looking at a color image. High suggestible participants reported successful alterations in color perception in both tasks, both in and out of hypnosis, and showed a small benefit if hypnosis was induced. Low suggestible people could not perform the tasks successfully with or without the hypnotic induction. The fMRI results supported the self report data, and changes in brain activity were found in a number of visual areas. The results indicate that a hypnotic induction, although having the potential to enhance the ability of high suggestible people, is not necessary for the effective alteration of color perception by suggestion.
    Consciousness and Cognition 11/2011; 21(1):100-16. · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Clock Drawing Test (CDT) is a valid screening tool for the evaluation of cognitive decline. This study aimed to compute standardized norms for the Freedman version of the CDT in a population of 248 healthy Italian individuals aged from 20 to 89 years. The effects of age, education, and gender on performance were assessed. Three conditions were administered: free-drawn clock (FD), which required participants to draw the contour, numbers, hands, and center of the clock; predrawn clock (PD), in which numbers, hands, and center had to be included in a predrawn contour; examiner-drawn clock (ED), in which only hands and center had to be inserted in a template including a predrawn contour and numbers. Scores for each of the single conditions and a total score were calculated. Age had no effect on the FD condition, whereas a significant effect of age was found for the PD and ED conditions and the total score. Gender and education had no influence on any of the scores. Correction grids, cutoffs, and equivalent scores were computed. Standardized norms for the Freedman version of the CDT were collected in a large sample of healthy individuals. No adjustments were required for scores on the free-drawn condition, whereas raw scores on the predrawn and examiner-drawn conditions and the total score needed adjustments to account for age effects. The availability of standardized norms for this version of the CDT could increase the use of this comprehensive tool in the detection of dementia.
    Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 11/2011; 33(9):982-8. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Morphometric and neuropsychological retrospective studies of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have demonstrated that regional atrophies and cognitive impairments may differentiate stable from progressing MCI. No measure has proved helpful prospectively. In this study, twenty five amnestic MCI patients and 25 healthy controls underwent structural MRI and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. The groups' grey matter volumes were compared with voxel based morphometry and were also correlated with scores obtained on paired associates learning and category fluency tasks. MCI patients had significantly reduced grey matter volume in left mediotemporal and other neocortical regions compared with controls. Atrophy in perirhinal and anterior inferior temporal cortex was associated with poor scores on both category fluency and paired associates learning tasks. After 36 months, 44% of the MCI sample converted to dementia. Converter and non-converter MCI subgroups differed in paired associates learning and in category fluency scores, and showed limited differences in grey matter loss in the hippocampal complex. Variable atrophy in the hippocampus was not a relevant element in the converter/non converter distinction, but converters had significant volumetric reductions in the perhirinal cortex and in other anterior temporal and frontal neocortical areas. A high proportion of converters (91%) could be identified from baseline data using a combination of measures of regional atrophy in left temporal association cortex and poor scores on paired associates learning and category fluency tasks. This combined approach may offer a better option than using each measure alone to prospectively identify individuals at more immediate risk of conversion to dementia in the MCI population. The clinical advantage of this combination of structural MRI and neuropsychological measures in predicting conversion to dementia will need additional prospective validation.
    Current Alzheimer research 11/2011; 8(7):789-97. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    Annalena Venneri, Carlo Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: This study reports the case of a patient (AG) whose main calculation problem was with multiplication that was severely affected at all levels including that of conceptual knowledge. In contrast AG's problems with addition, subtraction and division were much less conspicuous and just involved the use of procedures. For all these latter operations, and for division in particular, conceptual knowledge was spared. Despite his procedural problems, AG in fact was fully aware that division consists of finding out how many times a given quantity is contained in another quantity. Thus while he was able to reach the correct results for division by subtracting the divisor from the dividend, he never used the reverse strategy to complete multiplication operations, i.e. add the number for as many times as the multiplier to complete the operation, and showed no awareness that this was what multiplying means, even when explicit suggestions were made by the examiner. The existence of AG's case could not be expected on the basis of theories holding that division depends on multiplication and that is not separately represented in semantic memory. It follows, therefore, that the extent to which division depends on multiplication needs to be reconsidered.
    Neuropsychologia 09/2011; 49(13):3629-35. · 3.48 Impact Factor
  • Katija Khan, Annalena Venneri
    Alzheimer's and Dementia 07/2011; 7(4):S294. · 17.47 Impact Factor
  • Katija Khan, Annalena Venneri
    Alzheimer's and Dementia 07/2011; 7(4):S249. · 17.47 Impact Factor
  • Alzheimer's and Dementia 07/2011; 7(4). · 17.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study characterized the relationship between apolipoprotein E (APOE) status and residual semantic abilities in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). APOE status (ε4 carrier/non ε4 carrier) was determined in 30 amnestic MCIs and in 22 healthy matched non ε4 carrier controls. The lexical characteristics (age of acquisition, typicality, familiarity) of words produced in a category fluency task were determined. MCIs produced fewer words than controls and these were also earlier acquired and more familiar. The words produced by MCI ε4 carriers were earlier acquired than those of non ε4 carriers. Analyses limited to the first 10 words produced by patients and controls showed similar findings and also revealed that MCI subgroups retrieved first more typical words than controls. Follow up showed higher conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD) in MCI ε4 carriers than in non ε4 carriers. These findings show that a significant proportion of phenotype variability in performance on category fluency in people at increased AD risk is influenced by genetic factors. These findings explain why category fluency deficits, together with episodic memory deficits, are the only consistent early deficits in MCI patients who convert to AD. (JINS, 2011, 17, 1-8).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 03/2011; · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to verify whether the repetition abilities in Alzheimer patients interact with the linguistic properties of individual languages, such that speakers will omit nominal referents more often only if the omission is a grammatical option in their language. Unlike English, where an overt nominal referent is always required in grammatical subject position, Italian allows grammatical subjects to be unexpressed. In Experiment 1, twelve Italian speakers with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and twelve age- and education-matched controls repeated sentences of varying length and complexity. As predicted, Italian AD speakers omitted sentence subjects in complex sentences while control participants very rarely did. In Experiment 2, ten English AD speakers, matched with the Italian AD participants with respect to age and severity of the disease, and ten age- and education-matched controls repeated translation equivalent materials. Unlike the Italian AD participants, English AD participants did not omit sentence subjects. Italian and English AD participants, however, were comparable in their global ability to repeat sentences of varying length. Together these results indicate that the performance of AD speakers in repeating sentences interacts with language-specific properties.
    Journal of Neurolinguistics. 01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the cognitive profile and the cerebral perfusion pattern in a highly educated 70 year old gentleman with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). Visuo-perceptual abilities, spatial memory, spatial representation and navigation, visuo-spatial mental imagery, semantic and episodic-autobiographical memory were assessed. Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was imaged with SPECT. Cognitive testing showed visual-perceptual impairment, apperceptive visual and landmark agnosia, topographical disorientation with way-finding deficits, impaired map learning and poor mental image generation. Semantic memory was normal, while episodic-autobiographical memory was impaired. Reduced rCBF was found mainly in the right hemisphere, in the precentral gyrus, posterior cingulate and middle temporal gyri, cuneus and precuneus, in the left superior temporal and lingual gyri and in the parahippocampus bilaterally. Hypoperfusion in occipito-parietal regions was associated with visuo-spatial deficits, whereas deficits in visuo-spatial mental imagery might reflect dysfunction related to hypoperfusion in the parahippocampus and precuneus, structures which are responsible for spatial and imagery processing. Dissociating performance between preserved semantic memory and poor episodic-autobiographical recall is consistent with a pattern of normal perfusion in frontal and anterior temporal regions but abnormal rCBF in the parahippocampi. The present findings indicate that PCA involves visuo-spatial imagery deficits and provide further validation to current neuro-cognitive models of spatial representation and topographical disorientation.
    Behavioural neurology 01/2011; 24(2):123-32. · 1.25 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Neurophysiology - CLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 01/2011; 122.
  • Alzheimers & Dementia - ALZHEIMERS DEMENT. 01/2011; 7(4).
  • Alzheimers & Dementia - ALZHEIMERS DEMENT. 01/2011; 7(4).
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    ABSTRACT: Lexical-semantic competency in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) ε4 carriers was used as an endophenotype, and gray matter volume in MCI ε4 carriers/noncarriers and in noncarrier controls was compared. Residual gray matter volumes were correlated with age of acquisition values for words from a category fluency task, an index of semantic competency. MCI patients had significantly impoverished lexical-semantic output compared with controls, more marked in MCI ε4 carriers. Smaller volumes in the left hippocampus, bilateral regions of the uncus, and posterior cingulate cortex were associated with a tendency to retrieve earlier acquired words in the category fluency task in MCI ε4 carriers, whereas poor semantic performance in MCI noncarriers was associated with smaller volumes in the left uncus, bilateral regions of the parahippocampal gyrus, and hippocampus, and also in a large number of neocortical regions. There was a significant semantic competency by genotype interaction in the left perirhinal cortex, in a number of left frontal and temporal areas and in the right inferior parietal lobule and precuneus. MCI ε4 carriers, when compared with noncarriers, had lower gray matter volume values confined to the right precuneus and the cerebellum bilaterally, but the converse comparison showed that MCI noncarriers had lower values in extensive frontal, temporal, and parietal regions of the neocortex. Similar brain volumetric variations linked to genotype were found in minimal-to-mild AD. The results suggest a relatively specific impact of apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 burden and underline the value of linguistic assessment in preclinical diagnosis.
    Alzheimer disease and associated disorders 12/2010; 25(3):230-41. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stewart G, McGeown WJ, Shanks MF, Venneri A. Anosognosia for memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease.Objective: To investigate whether patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) were able to alter their awareness of memory deficits after exposure to a memory task.Methods: Thirty normal older adults and 23 mild AD patients participated in the study. Anosognosia was assessed using discrepancies between self- and informant-evaluations of cognitive and functional performance. Participants estimated their performance on the Verbal Paired Associates task at different points in time (before, immediately after the task and after a 1-h delay).Results: AD patients were generally less able to judge their memory abilities than healthy older adults, and tended to overestimate their task performance beforehand. Their prediction accuracy increased immediately after the task, but after a 1-h delay, they again misjudged their abilities at pretesting accuracy levels. Self-carer discrepancy scores of awareness of deficits in memory and other areas correlated significantly with memory tests but not with other neuropsychological tasks in the assessment, and larger discrepancy scores were associated with poorer performance.Conclusion: AD patients can monitor their task performance online, but are unable to maintain awareness of their deficits over time. Loss of awareness of memory deficits (or of any other deficits) in early stage AD may indicate damage to a system which updates a personal knowledge base with recent information. Failure to retain this information impedes abstraction from episodic to semantic memory.
    Acta Neuropsychiatrica 07/2010; 22(4):180 - 187. · 0.61 Impact Factor
  • Katija Khan, Michael F. Shanks, Annalena Venneri
    Alzheimer's and Dementia 07/2010; 6(4):S480. · 17.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroimaging studies of cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) treatment in Alzheimer's disease (AD) have shown the different short and long term actions of ChEIs. fMRI studies of the ChEI donepezil have focused on its short to medium term action without exploring the effects of established treatment. In this exploratory study the effect of 20 weeks donepezil treatment on regional brain activity was measured with fMRI in patients with mild AD. Twelve patients with probable AD and nine age-matched controls were assessed with a Pyramids and Palm Trees semantic association fMRI paradigm and an n-back working memory fMRI paradigm. In the patient group only, the assessment was repeated after 20 weeks of treatment. After treatment, differences from normal healthy elderly became more pronounced. There was also a spread of deactivation which at retest was detectable in task relevant areas. Behaviourally, however, there were no significant differences between group baseline and retest scores, with a range of performance probably reflecting variation in drug efficacy across patients. Parametric analyses established that increased behavioural scores at retest correlated significantly with higher activation levels in non task relevant areas. Behavioural stability with donepezil treatment was not paralleled by the pattern of improved task specific brain activation reported in similar studies of other ChEIs. This is arguably related to the different mechanisms of action of the ChEIs and might be a clinical correlate of the reported synaptic upregulation following long term donepezil treatment.
    Current Alzheimer research 05/2010; 7(5):415-27. · 4.97 Impact Factor
  • Alzheimers & Dementia - ALZHEIMERS DEMENT. 01/2010; 6(4).

Publication Stats

1k Citations
545.86 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • The University of Sheffield
      • Department of Neuroscience
      Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
  • 2004–2014
    • University of Hull
      • Department of Psychology
      Kingston upon Hull, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002–2013
    • Università degli studi di Parma
      • Dipartimento di Neuroscienze
      Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 2012
    • Durham University
      • Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit
      Durham, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1993–2009
    • Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
      Modène, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 2006
    • University College London
      • Institute of Child Health
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
    • The University of York
      • Department of Psychology
      York, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2004–2006
    • Catholic University of Louvain
      Walloon Region, Belgium
  • 2005
    • University of Padova
      • Department of General Psychology
      Padova, Veneto, Italy
  • 2004–2005
    • The Robert Gordon University
      • School of Applied Social Studies
      Aberdeen, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 1996–2004
    • University of Aberdeen
      • • School of Psychology
      • • School of Engineering
      Aberdeen, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 2002–2003
    • University of Milan
      • Department of Health Science - DISS
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2000
    • Università degli Studi di Palermo
      Palermo, Sicily, Italy