Brain resources: How semantic cueing works in mild cognitive impairment due to alzheimer’s disease (mci-ad)

Andrea Brugnolo, Nicola Girtler, Elisa Doglione, Beatrice Orso, Federico Massa, Maria Isabella Donegani, Matteo Bauckneht, Silvia Morbelli, Dario Arnaldi, Flavio Nobili, Matteo Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Semantic cues in the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCRST) play a key role in the neuropsychological diagnosis of Amnesic Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimer’s Disease (MCI-AD); however, the neural bases of their impact of recall abilities are only partially understood. Here, we thus decided to investigate the relationships between brain metabolism and the FCSRT Index of Sensitivity of Cueing (ISC) in patients with MCI-AD and in healthy controls (HC). Materials: Thirty MCI-AD patients (age: 74.7 ± 5.7 years; education: 9.6 ± 4.6 years, MMSE score: 24.8 ± 3.3, 23 females) and seventeen HC (age: 66.5 ± 11.1 years; education: 11.53 ± 4.2 years, MMSE score: 28.4 ± 1.14, 10 females) who underwent neuropsychological evaluation and brain F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography (FDG-PET) were included in the study. Results: ISC was able to differentiate HC from MCI-AD subjects as shown by a ROC analysis (AUC of 0.978, effect size Hedges’s g = 2.89). MCI-AD subjects showed significant hypometabolism in posterior cortices, including bilateral inferior Parietal Lobule and Precuneus and Middle Temporal gyrus in the left hemisphere (VOI-1) compared to HC. ISC was positively correlated with brain metabolism in a single cluster (VOI-2) spanning the left prefrontal cortex (superior frontal gyrus) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the patient group (R2 = 0.526, p < 0.001), but not in HC. Mean uptake values of VOI-2 did not differ between HC and MCI-AD. The structural connectivity analysis showed that VOI-2 is connected with the temporal pole, the cingulate gyrus and the posterior temporal cortices in the left hemisphere. Conclusion: In MCI-AD, the relative preservation of frontal cortex metabolic levels and their correlation with the ISC suggest that the left frontal cortices play a significant role in maintaining a relatively good memory performance despite the presence of posterior hypometabolism in MCI-AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • MCI-AD
  • Semantic cue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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