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Right Anterior Insula: Core Region of Hallucinations in Cognitive Neurodegenerative Diseases

Abstract : Objectives: We investigated the neural basis of hallucinations Alzheimer's disease (AD) by applying voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to anatomical and functional data from the AD Neuroimaging Initiative. Methods: AD patients with hallucinations, based on the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI-Q) (AD-hallu group; n = 39), were compared to AD patients without hallucinations matched for age, sex, educational level, handedness and MMSE (AD-c group; n = 39). Focal brain volume on MRI was analyzed and compared between the two groups according to the VBM method. We also performed voxel-level correlations between brain volume and hallucinations intensity. A similar paradigm was used for the PET analysis. “Core regions” (i.e. regions identified in both MRI and PET analyses, simply done by retaining the clusters obtained from the two analyses that are overlapping) were then determined. Results: Regions with relative atrophy in association with hallucinations were: anterior part of the right insula, left superior frontal gyrus and lingual gyri. Regions with relative hypometabolism in association with hallucinations were a large right ventral and dorsolateral prefrontal area. "Core region" in association with hallucinations was the right anterior part of the insula. Correlations between intensity of hallucinations and brain volume were found in the right anterior insula, precentral gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, and left precuneus. Correlations between intensity of hallucinations and brain hypometabolism were found in the left midcingulate gyrus. We checked the neuropathological status and we found that the 4 patients autopsied in the AD-hallu group had the mixed pathology AD and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Conclusion: Neural basis of hallucinations in cognitive neurodegenerative diseases (AD or AD and DLB) include a right predominant anterior-posterior network, and the anterior insula as the core region. This study is coherent with the top-down/bottom-up hypotheses on hallucinations but also hypotheses of the key involvement of the anterior insula in hallucinations in cognitive neurodegenerative diseases.
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Frédéric Blanc, Vincent Noblet, Nathalie Philippi, Benjamin Cretin, Jack Foucher, et al.. Right Anterior Insula: Core Region of Hallucinations in Cognitive Neurodegenerative Diseases. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2014, 9 (12), pp.e114774. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0114774⟩. ⟨hal-02288100⟩

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