Cognitive Processes Underlying Verbal Fluency in Multiple Sclerosis.
ABSTRACT: Background: Verbal fluency (VF) has been associated with several cognitive functions, but the cognitive processes underlying verbal fluency deficits in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are controversial. Further knowledge about VF could be useful in clinical practice, because these tasks are brief, applicable, and reliable in MS patients. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the cognitive processes related to VF and to develop machine-learning algorithms to predict those patients with cognitive deficits using only VF-derived scores. Methods: Two hundred participants with MS were enrolled and examined using a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, including semantic and phonemic fluencies. Automatic linear modeling was used to identify the neuropsychological test predictors of VF scores. Furthermore, machine-learning algorithms (support vector machines, random forest) were developed to predict those patients with cognitive deficits using only VF-derived scores. Results: Neuropsychological tests associated with attention-executive functioning, memory, and language were the main predictors of the different fluency scores. However, the importance of memory was greater in semantic fluency and clustering scores, and executive functioning in phonemic fluency and switching. Machine learning algorithms predicted general cognitive impairment and executive dysfunction, with F1-scores over 67-71%. Conclusions: VF was influenced by many other cognitive processes, mainly including attention-executive functioning, episodic memory, and language. Semantic fluency and clustering were more explained by memory function, while phonemic fluency and switching were more related to executive functioning. Our study supports that the multiple cognitive components underlying VF tasks in MS could serve for screening purposes and the detection of executive dysfunction.
Project description:Semantic and phonemic fluency tasks are frequently used to test executive functioning, speed and attention, and access to the mental lexicon. In semantic fluency tasks, subjects are required to generate words belonging to a category (e.g., animals) within a limited time window, whereas in phonemic fluency tasks subjects have to generate words starting with a given letter. Anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency are currently assumed to overlap in left frontal structures, reflecting shared executive processes, and to be distinct in left temporal and right frontal structures, reflecting involvement of distinct memory processes and search strategies. Definite evidence for this assumption is lacking. To further establish the anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency, we applied assumption-free voxel-based and region-of-interest-based lesion-symptom mapping in 93 patients with ischemic stroke. Fluency was assessed by asking patients to name animals (semantic), and words starting with the letter N and A (phonemic). Our findings indicate that anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency overlap in the left inferior frontal gyrus and insula, reflecting shared underlying cognitive processes. Phonemic fluency additionally draws on the left rolandic operculum, which might reflect a search through phonological memory, and the middle frontal gyrus. Semantic fluency additionally draws on left medial temporal regions, probably reflecting a search through semantic memory, and the right inferior frontal gyrus, which might reflect the application of a visuospatial mental imagery strategy in semantic fluency. These findings establish shared and distinct anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency.
Project description:The decrease in verbal fluency in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) undergoing subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) is usually assumed to reflect a frontal lobe-related cognitive dysfunction, although evidence for this is lacking.To explore its underlying mechanisms, we combined neuropsychological, psychiatric and motor assessments with an examination of brain metabolism using F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, in 26 patients with PD, 3 months before and after surgery. We divided these patients into two groups, depending on whether or not they exhibited a postoperative deterioration in either phonemic (10 patients) or semantic (8 patients) fluency. We then compared the STN-DBS groups with and without verbal deterioration on changes in clinical measures and brain metabolism.We did not find any neuropsychological change supporting the presence of an executive dysfunction in patients with a deficit in either phonemic or semantic fluency. Similarly, a comparison of patients with or without impaired fluency on brain metabolism failed to highlight any frontal areas involved in cognitive functions. However, greater changes in cognitive slowdown and apathy were observed in patients with a postoperative decrease in verbal fluency.These results suggest that frontal lobe-related cognitive dysfunction could play only a minor role in the postoperative impairment of phonemic or semantic fluency, and that cognitive slowdown and apathy could have a more decisive influence. Furthermore, the phonemic and semantic impairments appeared to result from the disturbance of distinct mechanisms.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Psychosocial work characteristics may predict cognitive functioning after retirement. However, little research has explored specific cognitive domains associated with psychosocial work environments. Our study tested whether exposure to job demands, job control and their combination during working life predicted post-retirement performance on eight cognitive tests.<h4>Methods</h4>We used data from French GAZEL cohort members who had undergone post-retirement cognitive testing (n=2149). Psychosocial job characteristics were measured on average for 4 years before retirement using Karasek's Job Content Questionnaire (job demands, job control and demand-control combinations). We tested associations between these exposures and post-retirement performance on tests for executive function, visual-motor speed, psychomotor speed, verbal memory, and verbal fluency using ordinary least squares regression.<h4>Results</h4>Low job control during working life was negatively associated with executive function, psychomotor speed, phonemic fluency and semantic fluency after retirement (p's<0.05), even after adjustment for demographics, socioeconomic status, health and social behaviours and vascular risk factors. Both passive (low-demand, low-control) and high-strain (high-demand, low-control) jobs were associated with lower scores on phonemic and semantic fluency when compared to low-strain (low-demand, high-control) jobs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Low job control, in combination with both high and low-job demands, is associated with post-retirement deficits in some, but not all, cognitive domains. In addition to work stress, associations between passive work and subsequent cognitive function may implicate lack of cognitive engagement at work as a risk factor for future cognitive difficulties.
Project description:Objective: Numerous reports on neurocognitive functioning deficits in individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) and first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients suggest particular deficits in executive functioning (EF). However, to date, most of the studies have administered a single or a few EF tests to participants, and few investigations have examined the different components of EF to identify specific subdomains of relative strength and weakness. Method: Forty CHR subjects, 85 FEP patients, and 85 healthy controls (HCs) were assessed with a neuropsychological battery to elucidate the profiles of EF in the subdomains of shift, attention, fluency, and planning. Results: In the subdomains of shift, attention, and fluency, CHR individuals and FEP patients showed deficits compared to HC. The post hoc analysis revealed that CHR individuals had comparable attention shifting and phonemic fluency compared to FEP. CHR showed intermediate deficits between FEP and HCs in spatial working memory and semantic fluency, and the largest effect size was observed in semantic fluency both for CHR and FEP. Conclusion: Overall, the findings of this study, in addition to providing detailed profiles of EF in prodromal and early psychosis patients, highlight the informative value of the specific subdomains of semantic fluency and spatial working memory.
Project description:In verbal fluency (VF) tests, subjects articulate words in a specified category during a short test period (typically 60 s). Verbal fluency tests are widely used to study language development and to evaluate memory retrieval in neuropsychiatric disorders. Performance is usually measured as the total number of correct words retrieved. Here, we describe the properties of a computerized VF (C-VF) test that tallies correct words and repetitions while providing additional lexical measures of word frequency, syllable count, and typicality. In addition, the C-VF permits (1) the analysis of the rate of responding over time, and (2) the analysis of the semantic relationships between words using a new method, Explicit Semantic Analysis (ESA), as well as the established semantic clustering and switching measures developed by Troyer et al. (1997). In Experiment 1, we gathered normative data from 180 subjects ranging in age from 18 to 82 years in semantic ("animals") and phonemic (letter "F") conditions. The number of words retrieved in 90 s correlated with education and daily hours of computer-use. The rate of word production declined sharply over time during both tests. In semantic conditions, correct-word scores correlated strongly with the number of ESA and Troyer-defined semantic switches as well as with an ESA-defined semantic organization index (SOI). In phonemic conditions, ESA revealed significant semantic influences in the sequence of words retrieved. In Experiment 2, we examined the test-retest reliability of different measures across three weekly tests in 40 young subjects. Different categories were used for each semantic ("animals", "parts of the body", and "foods") and phonemic (letters "F", "A", and "S") condition. After regressing out the influences of education and computer-use, we found that correct-word z-scores in the first session did not differ from those of the subjects in Experiment 1. Word production was uniformly greater in semantic than phonemic conditions. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of correct-word z-scores were higher for phonemic (0.91) than semantic (0.77) tests. In semantic conditions, good reliability was also seen for the SOI (ICC = 0.68) and ESA-defined switches in semantic categories (ICC = 0.62). In Experiment 3, we examined the performance of subjects from Experiment 2 when instructed to malinger: 38% showed abnormal (p< 0.05) performance in semantic conditions. Simulated malingerers with abnormal scores could be distinguished with 80% sensitivity and 89% specificity from subjects with abnormal scores in Experiment 1 using lexical, temporal, and semantic measures. In Experiment 4, we tested patients with mild and severe traumatic brain injury (mTBI and sTBI). Patients with mTBI performed within the normal range, while patients with sTBI showed significant impairments in correct-word z-scores and category shifts. The lexical, temporal, and semantic measures of the C-VF provide an automated and comprehensive description of verbal fluency performance.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>To investigate the relation between orthostatic hypotension (OH) and posture-mediated cognitive impairment in Parkinson disease (PD) using a cross-sectional and within-group design.<h4>Methods</h4>Individuals without dementia with idiopathic PD included 18 with OH (PDOH) and 19 without OH; 18 control participants were also included. Neuropsychological tests were conducted in supine and upright-tilted positions. Blood pressure was assessed in each posture.<h4>Results</h4>The PD groups performed similarly while supine, demonstrating executive dysfunction in sustained attention and response inhibition, and reduced semantic fluency and verbal memory (encoding and retention). Upright posture exacerbated and broadened these deficits in the PDOH group to include phonemic fluency, psychomotor speed, and auditory working memory. When group-specific supine scores were used as baseline anchors, both PD groups showed cognitive changes following tilt, with the PDOH group exhibiting a wider range of deficits in executive function and memory as well as significant changes in visuospatial function.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Cognitive deficits in PD have been widely reported with assessments performed in the supine position, as seen in both our PD groups. Here we demonstrated that those with PDOH had transient, posture-mediated changes in excess of those found in PD without OH. These observed changes suggest an acute, reversible effect. Understanding the effects of OH due to autonomic failure on cognition is desirable, particularly as neuroimaging and clinical assessments collect data only in the supine or seated positions. Identification of a distinct neuropsychological profile in PD with OH has quality of life implications, and OH presents itself as a possible target for intervention in cognitive disturbance.
Project description:The identification of the type and sequence of cognitive decline in preclinical mild cognitive impairment (MCI) prior to Alzheimer's disease (AD) is crucial for understanding AD pathogenesis and implementing therapeutic interventions.To model the longitudinal courses of different neuropsychological functions in MCI due to AD.We investigated the prodromal phase of MCI over a 12-year period in 27 initially healthy participants with subsequent MCI preceding AD (NC-MCI) and 60 demographically matched healthy individuals (NC-NC). The longitudinal courses of cognitive performance (verbal and visual episodic memory, semantic memory, executive functioning, constructional praxis, psychomotor speed, language, and informant-based reports) were analyzed with linear mixed effects models.The sequence with which different cognitive functions declined in the NC-MCI relative to the NC-NC group began with verbal memory and savings performance approximately eight years, and verbal episodic learning, visual memory, and semantic memory (animal fluency) circa four years prior to the MCI diagnosis. Executive functioning, psychomotor speed, and informant-based reports of the NC-MCI group declined approximately two years preceding the MCI diagnosis.Measurable neuropsychological deterioration occurs up to approximately eight years preceding MCI due to AD.
Project description:The relationship of verbal fluency to executive functions (EFs) remains somewhat unclear. Verbal fluency is sometimes considered an EF ability, but is not often included in the same models as other well-studied EFs (inhibition, shifting, and working memory updating). We examined the associations between verbal fluency and EFs at 2 ages with the unity/diversity model, which includes common and domain-specific EF factors. Participants were 813 adolescent twins from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Sample (mean age 17 years) and 1,290 middle-aged twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (mean age 56 years) who completed multiple measures of EFs, verbal fluency, vocabulary, and nonverbal cognitive ability. Results revealed that, in both samples, a General Fluency factor (i.e., comprising both phonemic and semantic fluency measures) was associated with the Common EF factor, but also with variance unique to working memory updating, working memory span, and set-shifting. In adolescents, semantic fluency also had unique associations with shifting beyond its shared variance with phonemic fluency and Common EF. After accounting for EFs and other cognitive abilities, there were unique genetic and environmental influences on the General Fluency and Semantic-Specific latent factors. These results suggest that verbal fluency ability may best be viewed as an amalgamation of general EF variance (i.e., Common EF ability), variance shared with other EFs (e.g., Updating-Specific ability), and multiple sources of unique genetic/environmental variance (i.e., General Fluency and Semantic-Specific abilities). These associations between verbal fluency and EFs generalize to populations that differ in age by approximately 40 years. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Although the obesity paradox is an important modifiable factor in cardiovascular diseases, little research has been conducted to determine how it affects post-stroke cognitive function. We aimed to investigate the association between body mass index (BMI) and domain-specific cognitive outcomes, focusing on the subdivision of each frontal domain function in post-ischemic stroke survivors. A total of 335 ischemic stroke patients were included in the study after completion of the Korean-Mini Mental Status Examination (K-MMSE) and the vascular cognitive impairment harmonization standards neuropsychological protocol at 3 months after stroke. Frontal lobe functions were analyzed using semantic/phonemic fluency, processing speed, and mental set shifting. Our study participants were categorized into four groups according to BMI quartiles. The z-scores of K-MMSE at 3 months differed significantly between the groups after adjustment for initial stroke severity (p = 0.014). Global cognitive function in stroke survivors in the Q1 (the lowest quartile) BMI group was significantly lower than those in Q2 and Q4 (the highest quartile) BMI groups (K-MMSE z-scores, Q1: - 2.10 ± 3.40 vs. Q2: 0.71 ± 1.95 and Q4: - 1.21 ± 1.65). Controlled oral word association test findings indicated that phonemic and semantic word fluency was lower in Q4 BMI group participants than in Q2 BMI group participants (p = 0.016 and p = 0.023 respectively). BMI might differentially affect cognitive domains after ischemic stroke. Although being underweight may negatively affect global cognition post-stroke, obesity could induce frontal lobe dysfunctions, specifically phonemic and semantic word fluency.
Project description:Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) is a neurodegenerative syndrome that typically presents with predominant visual and spatial impairments. The early diagnostic criteria specify a relative sparing of functioning in other cognitive domains, including executive functions, language, and episodic memory, yet little is known of the cognitive profile of PCA as the disease progresses. Studies of healthy adults and other posterior cortical lesion patients implicate posterior parietal and temporal regions in executive functions of working memory and verbal fluency, both of which may impact episodic memory. Relatively little has been reported about these cognitive functions in PCA, and to our knowledge there has not yet been a study of the impact of such deficits on memory function in PCA. We sought to examine PCA patients' performance on tests of executive function and the associations to verbal episodic memory encoding, storage, and delayed recall. Nineteen individuals with PCA underwent neuropsychological and neuroimaging evaluations as part of a comprehensive clinical assessment. We developed a novel consensus rating method-the Neuropsychological Assessment Rating (NAR) scale-to grade the severity of test performance impairments in selected cognitive domains and subdomains. Hypothesis-driven analyses demonstrated relative deficits in working memory and lexical-semantic retrieval. Preliminary analyses suggested associations between both deficits and atrophy in the left-hemisphere inferior parietal lobule. These executive deficits were also associated with impairments in verbal encoding and delayed recall, but not with recognition discriminability. We conclude that deficits in verbal executive functions impact verbal episodic memory in PCA. Our findings also support theories emphasizing the role of the posterior parietal cortex in supporting executive and lexical-semantic contributions to verbal episodic memory.