Neuroanatomical and cognitive correlates of domain-specific anosognosia in early Alzheimer's disease

Valera-Bermejo, Jose Manuel and De Marco, Matteo and Mitolo, Micaela and McGeown, William J. and Venneri, Annalena (2020) Neuroanatomical and cognitive correlates of domain-specific anosognosia in early Alzheimer's disease. Cortex, 129. pp. 236-246. ISSN 0010-9452

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    Abstract

    Anosognosia in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is defined as a lack of awareness for cognitive deficits or severity of disease. Previous studies have highlighted the link between anosognosia and damage to prefrontal functioning, i.e., executive functions. This study investigated the neuropsychological and neurostructural substrates of domain specific anosognosia in early AD. Fifty-three patients with a clinical diagnosis of early-AD and a reliable informant were administered the Measurement of Anosognosia Instrument, a validated tool to quantify anosognosia. Linear models were devised to test the association between the patient-informant discrepancy scores in the memory and non-memory domains and clinical profiles inclusive of cognitive scores and maps of grey matter. Total anosognosia scores were associated with episodic memory, semantic memory, visuoconstructive skills and volume of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), lingual gyrus, fusiform gyrus and thalamus. Memory anosognosia was associated with episodic memory and visuoconstructive skills. Non-memory anosognosia was associated with episodic and semantic memory and with volume of the ACC, precentral gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, postcentral gyrus, fusiform gyrus and lingual gyrus. Known as a region responsible for self-regulation and monitoring, reduction of grey matter in the frontal lobe was highlighted as crucial for the presence of anosognosia. Based on our findings, we argue that specific regions based in the frontal lobe could contribute to the functioning of the mnemonic comparator systems postulated by theoretical models of anosognosia. The cross-domain variability of cognitive correlates indicates that various computational mechanisms are at play in the presence of anosognosia.