Word fluency performance is known to rely on left frontal cortical regions and has also been shown to be affected by lesions in the white matter, which may be seen as white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on magnetic resonance imaging. However, word fluency may be divided into two independent components, initial and late performance, separated in time [J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 1998;20:137-143]. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between the two components of FAS fluency performance and WMH. Patients varying in degree of memory impairment participated: Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment and subjective memory disorder. WMH were rated with the Scheltens scale in the periventricular and deep subcortical areas. Results demonstrated that WMH in this sample of patients may be summarized in two indices according to a principal factor analysis, one anterior factor mainly related to WMH in the frontal lobes and adjacent to ventricles, and a second posterior factor related to parietal and occipital WMH. The initial FAS performance was related to anterior WMH, in particular left frontal or lateral periventricular hyperintensities, whereas the late FAS performance was not related to any index of WMH.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel