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Executive deficits are related to the inferior frontal junction in early dementia

MPS-Authors
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Schroeter,  Matthias L.
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Vogt,  Barbara
Max Planck Research Group Body and Self, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Frisch,  Stefan
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Mueller,  Karsten
Methods and Development Unit Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Schroeter_2012_Executive.pdf
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Citation

Schroeter, M. L., Vogt, B., Frisch, S., Becker, G., Barthel, H., Mueller, K., et al. (2012). Executive deficits are related to the inferior frontal junction in early dementia. Brain, 135(1), 201-215. doi:10.1093/brain/awr311.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-24A5-8
Abstract
Executive functions describe a wide variety of higher order cognitive processes that allow the flexible modification of thought and behaviour in response to changing cognitive or environmental contexts. Their impairment is common in neurodegenerative disorders. Executive deficits negatively affect everyday activities and hamper the ability to cope with other deficits, such as memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease or behavioural disorders in frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Our study aimed to characterize the neural correlates of executive functions by relating respective deficits to regional hypometabolism in early dementia. Executive functions were assessed with two classical tests, the Stroop and semantic fluency test and various subtests of the behavioural assessment of the dysexecutive syndrome test battery capturing essential aspects of executive abilities relevant to daily living. Impairments in executive functions were correlated with reductions in brain glucose utilization as measured by [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and analysed voxelwise using statistical parametric mapping in 54 subjects with early dementia, mainly Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and its prodromal stages: subjective and mild cognitive impairment. Although the analysis revealed task-specific frontoparietal networks, it consistently showed that hypometabolism in one region in the left lateral prefrontal cortex—the inferior frontal junction area—was related to performance in the various neuropsychological tests. This brain region has recently been related to the three component processes of cognitive control—working memory, task switching and inhibitory control. Group comparisons additionally showed hypometabolism in this area in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Our study underlines the importance of the inferior frontal junction area for cognitive control in general and for executive deficits in early dementia.