Evolution of autobiographical memory impairments in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia – A longitudinal neuroimaging study

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Abstract

Compromised autobiographical memory (ABM) retrieval is well established in dementia, attributable to degeneration of a core memory brain network. It remains unclear, however, how the progressive spread of atrophy with advancing disease severity impacts ABM retrieval across life epochs. To this end, we conducted a longitudinal study of recent and remote ABM in Alzheimer's disease (AD, n =11), and a frontotemporal lobar degeneration group (FTD, n =13) comprising 7 behavioral variant FTD and 6 semantic dementia patients, in comparison with 23 healthy older Controls. Patients were re-assessed approximately one year following their initial visit and underwent repeat testing and brain imaging. Linear mixed modeling neuroimaging analyses explored disease-specific cortical changes driving ABM alterations over time. AD patients showed comparable ABM profiles across assessment periods however, follow-up performance correlated strongly with lateral temporal lobe integrity. In contrast, recent ABMs were disproportionately disrupted at follow-up relative to baseline in the FTD group, attributable to cortical thinning in posterior brain regions, including the right posterior cingulate cortex. Our findings offer new insights regarding the potential time-specific role of discrete cortical regions in ABM retrieval and the differential fate of formerly evocative memories with advancing disease severity in dementia syndromes.

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