Cognitive Neuroscience


Cerebral cortex




Formal publication: December 2021

Authors: Birba, A., Fittipaldi, S., Cediel Escobar, J. C., Gonzalez Campo, C., Legaz, A., Galiani, A., Díaz Rivera, M. N., Martorell Caro, M., Alifano, F., Piña-Escudero, S. D., Cardona, J. F., Neely, A., Forno, G., Carpinella, M., Slachevsky, A., Serrano, C., Sedeño, L., Ibáñez, A., & García, A. M.

Abstract: Neurodegeneration has multiscalar impacts, including behavioral, neuroanatomical, and neurofunctional disruptions. Can disease-differential alterations be captured across such dimensions using naturalistic stimuli? To address this question, we assessed comprehension of four naturalistic stories, highlighting action, nonaction, social, and nonsocial events, in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) relative to Alzheimer’s disease patients and healthy controls. Text-specific correlates were evaluated via voxel-based morphometry, spatial (fMRI), and temporal (hd-EEG) functional connectivity. PD patients presented action-text deficits related to the volume of action-observation regions, connectivity across motor-related and multimodal-semantic hubs, and frontal hd-EEG hypoconnectivity. BvFTD patients exhibited social-text deficits, associated with atrophy and spatial connectivity patterns along social-network hubs, alongside right frontotemporal hd-EEG hypoconnectivity. Alzheimer’s disease patients showed impairments in all stories, widespread atrophy and spatial connectivity patterns, and heightened occipitotemporal hd-EEG connectivity. Our framework revealed disease-specific signatures across behavioral, neuroanatomical, and neurofunctional dimensions, highlighting the sensitivity and specificity of a single naturalistic task. This investigation opens a translational agenda combining ecological approaches and multimodal cognitive neuroscience for the study of neurodegeneration.