, Volume 254, Issue 8, pp 1052-1065
Date: 25 Mar 2007

Metabolic correlates of executive dysfunction

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This study was designed to examine the correlations between resting-state brain glucose metabolism (CMRglc), as measured with Positron Emission Tomography and performance on executive function tasks in Alzheimer's disease (AD), while taking into account the severity of cognitive deterioration. We addressed this issue in 50 AD patients, classified as very mild (n = 22) and mild (n = 28) AD on the basis of an extensive neuropsychological battery. Thirteen healthy subjects were selected as controls for the neuropsychological measures. Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) was used to examine voxel-wise correlations between CMRglc and scores on selected cognitive tests of executive functions: the Stroop Test, the Trail Making Test, the Dual Task and the Phonemic Fluency, while correcting for age and global CMRglc. All analyses were done separately for the two AD subgroups. The very mild AD patients showed significant associations between Stroop and Trail Making Test scores and prefrontal regions metabolism, whereas the mild AD patients exhibited more widely distributed cognitive–metabolic correlations extending to the posterior brain regions. These data suggest that a large cortical network is implicated in executive dysfunction in AD, and that the pattern of cognitive–metabolic correlations varies according to disease severity.

L. Bracco and V. Bessi contributed equally to this paper.