'Now we know where to target people's brains to attempt to improve their speech'
For the first time, Northwestern Medicine scientists have pinpointed the location of dysfunctional brain networks that lead to impaired sentence production and word finding in primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a form of dementia in which patients often lose their language rather than their memory or thought process.
Illustration of the three brain regions associated with speech production and the networks between them that, when broken, lead to speech impairments. Solid orange lines depict significantly lower connectivity between brain regions (in red) in PPA. IFG = Inferior Frontal Gyrus; MTG = Middle Temporal Gyrus; ATL = Anterior Temporal Lobe. PPA = Primary Progressive Aphasia; PPA-G = Nonfluent/agrammatic variant of PPA; PPA-L = Logopenic variant of PPA; PPA-S = Semantic variant of PPA.
Credit: Northwestern University
With this discovery, the scientists have drawn a map that illustrates three regions in the brain that fail to talk to each another, inhibiting a person's speech production, word finding and word comprehension. For example, some people can't connect words to form sentences, others can't name objects or understand single words like "cow" or "table."
The map can be used to target those brain regions with therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), to potentially improve an affected person's speech.
"Now we know where to target people's brains to attempt to improve their speech," said lead author Dr. Borna Bonakdarpour, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease Center and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist.
PPA occurs in patients with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal degeneration.
Interactions among three main regions in the brain is responsible for how people process words and sentences. PPA occurs when there is a lack of connectivity among these areas. Different patterns of connectivity failure among these regions can cause different subtypes of PPA.
The findings will be published Sept. 1 in the journal Cortex. The large study (73 patients) recruited from the extensive pool of patients with PPA at Northwestern's Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease Center, one of the largest centers in the world.
The study used functional MRI, which monitors brain activity by detecting blood flow, to locate the regions of the brain that are talking to each other or not. That cannot be shown with structural MRI.
Previous research used structural MRI to locate only regions of the brain that had atrophied, and scientists did not clearly know how physiological impairment in these regions correlated with symptoms a patient was experiencing.
This study is novel because it examined brain regions that were still functional (had not atrophied) and focused on the networks among the functional regions to see if they were connecting or not. This allowed the scientists to correlate the functional areas in the brain with symptoms of patients with PPA.
"Previous studies of structural changes in the brain were like archeology, in which scientists were locating areas of the brain that had already died," Bonakdarpour said. "But we are looking at the parts of the brain that are still alive, which makes them much easier to target with treatment."
Bonakdarpour and his colleagues have begun testing TMS on the three targeted brain regions in healthy individuals with the goal of applying it to patients with PPA in a future clinical trial.
Funding for this paper was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), grants K23 DC014303-01A1, R01 DC008552 and 013386, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the NIH, grant NS075075 AG056258.
Kristin Samuelson | EurekAlert!
Lung images of twins with asthma add to understanding of the disease
06.12.2019 | University of Western Ontario
Between Arousal and Inhibition
06.12.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making
In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...
With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction
The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...
Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds
Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.
In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
06.12.2019 | Earth Sciences
06.12.2019 | Life Sciences
06.12.2019 | Information Technology