The anterior temporal lobes (ATL) have become a key brain region of interest in cognitive neuroscience founded upon neuropsychological investigations of semantic dementia (SD). The purposes of this investigation are to generate a single unified model that captures the known cognitive-behavioural variations in SD and map these to the patients’ distribution of frontotemporal atrophy.
Here a group of scientist, including Matt Lambon Ralph from the MRC CBU, show that the degree of generalised semantic impairment is related to the patients’ total, bilateral ATL atrophy. Verbal production ability is related to total ATL atrophy as well as to the balance of left > right ATL atrophy. Apathy is found to relate positively to the degree of orbitofrontal atrophy. Disinhibition is related to right ATL and orbitofrontal atrophy, and face recognition to right ATL volumes. Rather than positing mutually-exclusive sub-categories, the data-driven model repositions semantics, language, social behaviour and face recognition into a continuous frontotemporal neurocognitive space.
The full article can be read in Nature here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16089-9