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Kasper, Elisabeth; Brueggen, Katharina; Grothe, Michel J.; Bruno, Davide; Pomara, Nunzio; Unterauer, Elisabeth; Duering, Marco; Ewers, Michael; Teipel, Stefan; Buerger, Katharina (2016): Neuronal Correlates of Serial Position Performance in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. In: Neuropsychology, Vol. 30, No. 8: pp. 906-914
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Abstract

Objectives: Delayed recall of the first words of a list-the primacy position-is thought to be particularly dependent on intact memory consolidation. Hippocampal volume has been suggested as the primary neuronal correlate of delayed primacy recall in cognitively normal elderly individuals. Here, we studied the association of hippocampal volume with primacy recall in individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Method: We investigated serial position performance in 88 subjects with aMCI using a 16-word list (the California Verbal Learning Test [CVLT]). Primacy and recency performance were measured during learning and delayed recall. Hippocampal volumes were automatically determined from structural MRI scans. We conducted regression analyses with bilateral hippocampal volumes as predictors and serial position indices as outcomes. Results: After controlling for age, gender, and total intracranial volume, bilateral hippocampal volume was not associated with primacy recall either during learning or delayed recall. Primacy performance during learning was associated with the right inferior and middle temporal gyrus as well as the right inferior parietal cortex and supramerginal gyrus. During delayed recall, primacy performance was related to the bilateral supramarginal gyri. Conclusions: Our findings suggest a reduced primacy effect in aMCI already during learning, contrasting previous findings in normal cognitive aging. This might indicate impaired encoding and consolidation processes at an early stage of episodic memory acquisition. Furthermore, our data indicate that hippocampal volume may not be a relevant determinant of residual primacy performance in the stage of aMCI, which may rather depend on temporal and parietal neocortical networks.