Published in

Brain Communications, 2021

DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcab015



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Neural substrates of verbal repetition deficits in primary progressive aphasia

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Abstract In this cross-sectional study, we examined the relationship between cortical thickness and performance on several verbal repetition tasks in a cohort of patients with primary progressive aphasia in order to test predictions generated by theoretical accounts of phonological working memory that predict phonological content buffers in left posterior inferior frontal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus. Cortical surfaces were reconstructed from magnetic resonance imaging scans from 42 participants diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia. Cortical thickness was measured in a set of anatomical regions spanning the entire cerebral cortex. Correlation analyses were performed between cortical thickness and average score across three phonological working memory related tasks: the Repetition subtest from the Western Aphasia Battery, a forward digit span task, and a backward digit span task. Significant correlations were found between average working memory score across tasks and cortical thickness in left supramarginal gyrus and left posterior inferior frontal sulcus, in support of prior theoretical accounts of phonological working memory. Exploratory whole-brain correlation analyses performed for each of the three behavioral tasks individually revealed a distinct set of positively-correlated regions for each task. Comparison of cortical thickness measures from different primary progressive aphasia subtypes to cortical thickness in age-matched controls further revealed unique patterns of atrophy in the different subtypes.