Publications (5)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) has been implicated in social and affectively influenced decision-making. Disease in this region may have clinical consequences for social judgments in patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). To test this hypothesis, regional cortical activation was monitored with fMRI while healthy adults judged the acceptability of brief social scenarios such as cutting into a movie ticket line or going through a red light at 2 AM. The scenarios described: (i) a socially neutral condition, (ii) a variant of each scenario containing a negatively valenced feature, and (iii) a variant containing a positively valenced feature. Results revealed that healthy adults activated vmPFC during judgments of negatively valenced scenarios relative to positive scenarios and neutral scenarios. In a comparative behavioral study, the same social decision-making paradigm was administered to patients with a social disorder due to FTLD. Patients differed significantly from healthy controls, specifically showing less sensitivity to negatively valenced features. Comparative anatomical analysis revealed considerable overlap of vmPFC activation in healthy adults and vmPFC cortical atrophy in FTLD patients. These converging results support the role of vmPFC in social decision-making where potentially negative consequences must be considered.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2010 · Neuropsychologia
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nature and frequency of speech production errors in neurodegenerative disease have not previously been precisely quantified. In the present study, 16 patients with a progressive form of non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) were asked to tell a story from a wordless children's picture book. Errors in production were classified as either phonemic, involving language-based deformations that nevertheless result in possible sequences of English speech segments; or phonetic, involving a motor planning deficit and resulting in non-English speech segments. The distribution of cortical atrophy as revealed by structural MRI scans was examined quantitatively in a subset of PNFA patients (N=7). The few errors made by healthy seniors were only phonemic in type. PNFA patients made more than four times as many errors as controls. This included both phonemic and phonetic errors, with a preponderance of errors (82%) classified as phonemic. The majority of phonemic errors were substitutions that shared most distinctive features with the target phoneme. The systematic nature of these substitutions is not consistent with a motor planning deficit. Cortical atrophy was found in prefrontal regions bilaterally and peri-Sylvian regions of the left hemisphere. We conclude that the speech errors produced by PNFA patients are mainly errors at the phonemic level of language processing and are not caused by a motor planning impairment.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2010 · Brain and Language
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The longitudinal assessment of episodic and semantic memory was obtained from 236 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD, n = 128) and with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD, n = 108), including patients with a social comportment/dysexecutive (SOC/EXEC) disorder, progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SemD), and corticobasal syndrome (CBS). At the initial assessment, AD patients obtained a lower score on the delayed free recall test than other patients. Longitudinal analyses for delayed free recall found converging performance, with all patients reaching the same level of impairment as AD patients. On the initial evaluation for delayed recognition, AD patients also obtained lower scores than other groups. Longitudinal analyses for delayed recognition test performance found that AD patients consistently produced lower scores than other groups and no convergence between AD and other dementia groups was seen. For semantic memory, there were no initial between-group differences. However, longitudinal analyses for semantic memory revealed group differences over illness duration, with worse performance for SemD versus AD, PNFA, SOC/EXEC, and CBS patients. These data suggest the presence of specific longitudinal patterns of impairment for episodic and semantic memory in AD and FTLD patients suggesting that all forms of dementia do not necessarily converge into a single phenotype.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2009 · Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Few studies have assessed whether the patterns of neuropsychological impairment in patients with different frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) subtypes remain distinct over the duration of their illness or devolve into a common, undifferentiated neuropsychological state. A longitudinal neuropsychological analysis was obtained over 100 months assessing executive control, language/naming, and visuoconstruction in 441 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and four FTLD subtypes, i.e., a social comportment/dysexecutive (SOC/EXEC) disorder; progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA); semantic dementia (SemD); and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Initial group differences on each measure were maintained over the duration of illness, including several double dissociations. For example, AD patients exhibited a decline in 'animal' fluency; PNFA patients had difficulty on tests of executive control, SemD maintained their impairment on tests of naming, and CBD had presented with performance on visuoconstructional tests. None of the group by neuropsychological task interactions evaluating longitudinal decline was significant, suggesting that performance does not converge onto a common subtype over time. These data indicate that distinct patterns of neuropsychological impairment are maintained longitudinally, reflecting the unique anatomic distribution of relative disease burden in AD and FTLD.
    Full-text Article · Jun 2009 · Neuropsychology
  • Brian Avants · Alea Khan · Leo McCluskey · [...] · Murray Grossman
    Article · Feb 2009 · Archives of neurology