Task-dependent posterior cingulate activation in mild cognitive impairment

Ries ML, Schmitz TW, Kawahara TN, Torgerson BM, Trivedi MA, Johnson SC

Neuroimage. 2006 Jan 15;29(2):485-92. Epub 2005 Aug 15.


Neuroimaging research has demonstrated that the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) is functionally compromised in individuals diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a major risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In functional MRI studies with healthy participants, this same region is active during self-appraisal (requiring retrieval of semantic knowledge about the self) as well as episodic recognition of previously learned information. Administering both types of tasks to people with MCI may reveal important information on the role of the PCC in recollection. This study investigated fMRI activation in the PCC in individuals with MCI and matched controls across two tasks. The first task was a visual episodic recognition task. The second task was an autobiographical self-appraisal task in which subjects rated themselves on a set of trait adjectives. Results of a conjunction analysis revealed the PCC as the sole region commonly active during both tasks in the healthy older adults. Furthermore, additional analysis revealed an interaction in the PCC, indicating a task-dependent response in the MCI group. MCI participants showed PCC activation during self-appraisal, but not episodic retrieval. This result suggests in MCI that the PCC shows functional degradation during episodic retrieval; however, the PCC's role in retrieval and evaluation of highly elaborated information regarding the self is more well-preserved.

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