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Behaviorally meaningful functional networks mediate the effect of Alzheimer's pathology on cognition

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Cereb Cortex. 2024 Apr 1;34(4):bhae134. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhae134.


Tau pathology is associated with cognitive impairment in both aging and Alzheimer’s disease, but the functional and structural bases of this relationship remain unclear. We hypothesized that the integrity of behaviorally meaningful functional networks would help explain the relationship between tau and cognitive performance. Using resting state fMRI, we identified unique networks related to episodic memory and executive function cognitive domains. The episodic memory network was particularly related to tau pathology measured with positron emission tomography in the entorhinal and temporal cortices. Further, episodic memory network strength mediated the relationship between tau pathology and cognitive performance above and beyond neurodegeneration. We replicated the association between these networks and tau pathology in a separate cohort of older adults, including both cognitively unimpaired and mildly impaired individuals. Together, these results suggest that behaviorally meaningful functional brain networks represent a functional mechanism linking tau pathology and cognition.

PMID:38602736 | DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhae134

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