Research Papers: Pathology:

Mediation of episodic memory performance by the executive function network in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment: a resting-state functional MRI study

Baoyu Yuan, Jiu Chen, Liang Gong, Hao Shu, Wenxiang Liao, Zan Wang, Duan Liu, Chunming Xie and Zhijun Zhang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:64711-64725. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11775

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Baoyu Yuan1, Jiu Chen1, Liang Gong1, Hao Shu1, Wenxiang Liao1, Zan Wang1, Duan Liu1, Chunming Xie1 and Zhijun Zhang1

1 Department of Neurology, ZhongDa Hospital, Neuropsychiatric Institute, Medical School of Southeast University, Nanjing, PR China

Correspondence to:

Zhijun Zhang, email:

Chunming Xie, email:

Keywords: amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), executive function (EF), episodic memory (EM), regional homogeneity (ReHo), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Pathology Section

Received: January 25, 2016 Accepted: July 18, 2016Published: August 31, 2016


Deficits in episodic memory (EM) are a hallmark clinical symptom of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Impairments in executive function (EF) are widely considered to exacerbate memory deficits and to increase the risk of conversion from aMCI to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the specific mechanisms underlying the interaction between executive dysfunction and memory deficits in aMCI patients remain unclear. Thus, the present study utilized resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the EF network and the EM network to investigate this relationship in 79 aMCI patients and 119 healthy controls (HC). The seeds were obtained from the results of a regional homogeneity (ReHo) analysis. Functional connectivity (FC) within the EM network was determined using a seed in the right retrosplenial cortex (RSC), and FC within EF network was assessed using seeds in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). There was a significant negative correlation between EM scores and EF scores in both the aMCI and HC groups. Compared to the HC group, aMCI patients had reduced right RSC connectivity but enhanced right DLPFC connectivity. The overlapping brain regions between the EM and EF networks were associated with FC in the right inferior parietal lobule (IPL) in the right RSC network, and in the bilateral middle cingulate cortex (MCC) and left IPL in the right DLPFC network. A mediation analysis revealed that the EF network had an indirect positive effect on EM performance in the aMCI patients. The present findings provide new insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the interaction between impaired EF and memory deficits in aMCI patients and suggest that the EF network may mediate EM performance in this population.

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