Phonological Errors in Posterior Cortical Atrophy

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2021;50(2):195-203. doi: 10.1159/000516481. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


Background: Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is an atypical variant of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that presents with visuospatial/perceptual deficits. PCA is characterized by atrophy in posterior brain regions, which overlaps with atrophy occurring in logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA), another atypical AD variant characterized by language difficulties, including phonological errors. Language abnormalities have been observed in PCA, although the prevalence of phonological errors is unknown. We aimed to compare the frequency and severity of phonological errors in PCA and lvPPA and determine the neuroanatomical correlates of phonological errors and language abnormalities in PCA.

Methods: The presence and number of phonological errors were recorded during the Boston Naming Test and Western Aphasia Battery repetition subtest in 27 PCA patients and 27 age- and disease duration-matched lvPPA patients. Number of phonological errors and scores from language tests were correlated with regional gray matter volumes using Spearman correlations.

Results: Phonological errors were evident in 55% of PCA patients and 70% of lvPPA patients, with lvPPA having higher average number of errors. Phonological errors in PCA correlated with decreased left inferior parietal and lateral temporal volume. Naming and fluency were also associated with decreased left lateral temporal lobe volume.

Conclusions: Phonological errors are common in PCA, although they are not as prevalent or severe as in lvPPA, and they are related to involvement of left temporoparietal cortex. This highlights the broad spectrum of clinical symptoms associated with AD and overlap between PCA and lvPPA.

Keywords: Atypical Alzheimer’s disease; Language; Logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia; MRI; Phonological errors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive* / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests