Primary Progressive Aphasia: PPA and the language network

Sreepadma P. Sonty, M. Marsel Mesulam, Cynthia K. Thompson, Nancy A. Johnson, Sandra Weintraub, Todd B. Parrish, Darren R. Gitelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a behaviorally focal dementia syndrome with deterioration of language functions but relative preservation of other cognitive domains for at least the first two years of disease. In this study, PPA patients with impaired word finding but intact comprehension of conversational speech and their matched control subjects were examined using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRI compared signal changes during phonological and semantic language tasks with those during a control task (matching letters). PPA patients showed longer reaction times and reduced accuracy versus controls on the language tasks, but no performance differences on the control task. VBM demonstrated reduced gray matter in left superior temporal and inferior parietal regions in the PPA group. However, these patients showed a normal pattern of activation within the classical language regions. In addition, PPA patients showed activations, not seen in normals, in fusiform gyrus, precentral gyrus, and intra-parietal sulcus. These activations were found to correlate negatively with measures of naming and task performance. The additional activations in PPA may therefore represent a compensatory spread of language-related neural activity or a failure to suppress activity in areas normally inhibited during language tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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