Regions that show task-induced deactivations may be part of a default-mode network related to processes that are more engaged during passive than active task conditions. Alteration of task-induced deactivations with age and dementia is indicated by atypical engagement of default-mode network regions. Genetic studies show a relation between the apolipoprotein E4 ( APOE 4) allele and the common form of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and altered functional brain activation has been observed in non-demented APOE 4 carriers compared to non-carriers. Here we investigate the hypothesis of altered default-mode network brain responses in individuals with genetic risk for AD. Functional MRI was used to assess task-induced deactivation in 60 subjects of which 30 carried at least one copy of the APOE 4 allele, and 30 non-carriers. Subjects were scanned while performing a semantic categorization task shown to promote episodic memory encoding. The results show patterns of deactivation consistent with the default-mode network. We also found reduced deactivation in non-demented APOE 4 carriers compared to non-carriers, suggesting alterations in the default-mode network in the absence of dementia. These results implicate possibilities for investigating altered properties of task-induced deactivations in individuals with genetic risk for AD, and may prove useful for pre-clinical identification of individuals susceptible to memory problems and AD.
Neuropsychologia – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2008
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