Damage to the Frontal Aslant Tract Accounts for Visuo-Constructive Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease

Laura Serra, Giulia Bechi Gabrielli, Elisa Tuzzi, Barbara Spanò, Giovanni Giulietti, Virginia Failoni, Camillo Marra, Carlo Caltagirone, Giacomo Koch, Mara Cercignani, Marco Bozzali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The frontal aslant tract (FAT) has been described as a bundle connecting the Broca's area to the supplementary motor area (SMA) and the pre-SMA in both hemispheres. The functional properties of this tract and its role in degenerative dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), still need to be fully clarified. The aim of this study was to explore the microstructural integrity of the FAT in patients with AD and its potential relationship with cognitive functioning. Twenty-Three patients with AD and 25 healthy subjects (HS) were enrolled. All subjects underwent cognitive and MRI examination. MRI, including diffusion sequences, was used for probabilistic tractography analysis. We reconstructed individual FATs bilaterally and assessed their microstructural integrity using fractional anisotropy (FA), computed as both mean tract value and voxel-wise using SPM-8. Mean FA values were then used to test for correlations with cognitive measures. Mean tract FA and voxel-wise analyses revealed that patients with AD, compared to HS, had decreased FA in the FAT bilaterally. In addition, positive associations were found between FA in the FATs and patients' performance at tests for constructional praxis and visuospatial logical reasoning. The present results reveal a bilateral damage of FAT in AD patients. The association between FATs' microscopic abnormalities and constructive abilities fits well with the knowledge of a functional involvement of SMA and pre-SMA in movement sequences when executing constructive praxis tasks. The FAT is an associative bundle critically involved in the network sub-serving constructional praxis in patients with AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1024
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • disconnection
  • frontal aslant tract
  • tractography
  • visuo-spatial abilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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