The nature and extent of episodic memory impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not clear and vary among studies, with some studies reporting impairment in immediate recall and/or delayed recall, while others report deficits only in recognition. These deficits suggest encoding and consolidation problems, which are generally associated with temporal lobe dysfunctions. Indeed, episodic memory performance in ALS has been shown to correlate with hippocampal atrophy and temporal lobe changes in several studies. However, we recently reported functional and structural changes of a more extended region involved in memory processing - the so-called Papez circuit. Considering the variability of the memory processes found to be preserved or impaired in ALS and the difficulties to test ALS patients, due to their often-present physical disability, we aim to investigate episodic memory with a novel tool we will develop to assess the long-term memory of ALS patients. This novel tool will account for the physical disability of ALS patients and will provide relevant elements to understand how the different episodic memory processes are affected in ALS. In addition, we will explore the relation between memory performance and the Papez circuit integrity byanalyzing structural, diffusion and functional MRI data. This will have important implications for diagnosis of memory impairment in this specific population. The early diagnosis of cognitive changes in ALS is especially important since cognitive deficits are a significant negative prognostic indicator and have a direct impact on survival.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: