Episodic memory and regional atrophy in frontotemporal lobar degeneration

Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan 15;46(1):127-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.08.003. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


It has been unclear to what extent memory is affected in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Since patients usually have atrophy in regions implicated in memory function, the frontal and/or temporal lobes, one would expect some memory impairment, and that the degree of atrophy in these regions would be inversely related to memory function. The purposes of this study were (1) to assess episodic memory function in FTLD, and more specifically patients' ability to episodically re-experience an event, and determine its source; (2) to examine whether memory performance is related to quantified regional brain atrophy. FTLD patients (n=18) and healthy comparison subjects (n=14) were assessed with cued recall, recognition, "remember/know" (self-reported re-experiencing) and source recall, at 30 min and 24h after encoding. Regional gray matter volumes were assessed with high resolution structural MRI concurrently to testing. Patients performed worse than comparison subjects on all memory measures. Gray matter volume in the left medial temporal lobe was positively correlated with recognition, re-experiencing, and source recall. Gray matter volume in the left posterior temporal lobe correlated significantly with recognition, at 30 min and 24h, and with source recall at 30 min. Estimated familiarity at 30 min was positively correlated with gray matter volume in the left inferior parietal lobe. In summary, episodic memory deficits in FTLD may be more common than previously thought, particularly in patients with left medial and posterior temporal atrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy / etiology*
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Time Factors