Language processing in age-related macular degeneration associated with unique functional connectivity signatures in the right hemisphere.
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a retinal disease associated with significant vision loss among older adults. Previous large-scale behavioral studies indicate that people with AMD are at increased risk of cognitive deficits in language processing, particularly in verbal fluency tasks. The neural underpinnings of any relationship between AMD and higher cognitive functions, such as language processing, remain unclear. This study aims to address this issue using independent component analysis of spontaneous brain activity at rest. In 2 components associated with visual processing, we observed weaker functional connectivity in the primary visual cortex and lateral occipital cortex in AMD patients compared with healthy controls, indicating that AMD might lead to differences in the neural representation of vision. In a component related to language processing, we found that increasing connectivity within the right inferior frontal gyrus was associated with better verbal fluency performance across all older adults, and the verbal fluency effect was greater in AMD patients than controls in both right inferior frontal gyrus and right posterior temporal regions. As the behavioral performance of our patients is as good as that of controls, these findings suggest that preservation of verbal fluency performance in AMD patients might be achieved through higher contribution from right hemisphere regions in bilateral language networks. If that is the case, there may be an opportunity to promote cognitive resilience among seniors with AMD or other forms of late-life vision loss.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Zhuang, Jie, David J Madden, Xuan Duong-Fernandez, Nan-Kuei Chen, Scott W Cousins, Guy G Potter, Michele T Diaz, Heather E Whitson, et al. (2017). Language processing in age-related macular degeneration associated with unique functional connectivity signatures in the right hemisphere. Neurobiol Aging, 63. pp. 65–74. 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.11.003 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15952.
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Dr. Chen is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) physicist with research interest in fast image acquisition methodology, pulse sequence design, MRI artifact correction, and application of MRI to studies of neurological diseases. He has been developing novel high-resolution imaging protocols and analysis procedures for mapping structural and functional connectivity of brains. More generally, Dr. Chen's research involves the application of MRI in translational contexts. He has been serving as the principal investigator on NIH-funded R01, R21 and R03 grants, and has had extensive experience as a co-investigator on NIH-funded projects.
Scott W. Cousins, M.D. is currently the Robert Machemer, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology and Immunology, Vice Chair for Research, and Director of the Duke Center for Macular Diseases at Duke Eye Center. As Vice Chair, he oversees all basic science research as well as the Ophthalmology Site-Based Research Group, which administrates clinical research for Duke Eye Center. Dr. Cousins is also Medical Director of Hospital-Based Imaging and Procedures for Duke Eye Center.
Dr. Cousins is a retina-trained ophthalmologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of macular diseases, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vascular diseases. Dr. Cousins is active in both clinical and laboratory research. In his clinical practice, Dr. Cousins is involved in many trials and innovative therapies for the treatment of macular diseases, especially AMD and diabetic retinopathy. He has served as site PI for numerous phase1-3 clinical trials in AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal disorders. He has served as a consultant or member of data safety monitoring committees (DSMC) for numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology startup companies.
In his scientific laboratory, Dr. Cousins pursues both NIH-funded and industry-funded research in various areas of dry and wet AMD. In particular, he is studying the role of circulating bone marrow-derived progenitors (stem cells) in contributing to wet AMD. His laboratory is attempting to develop treatments for dry macular degeneration and improving vision in eyes with wet macular degeneration. His program is also developing blood tests and new imaging technologies for the identification of patients who are at high risk for progressing into complications.
Dr. Cousins has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and other publications addressing topics of research or clinical care of retinal disease, especially AMD. In 2006, Dr. Cousins was awarded the prestigious Alcon Research Foundation Clinician Scientist Award. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health invited Dr. Cousins to join the National Advisory Eye Council. Dr. Cousins is also a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Retina Society, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Medical Association.
In 2010, Dr. Cousins was named one of the “Top 34 Ophthalmologists in the United States” by Becker’s ASC Review, a leading source of business and legal news for ambulatory surgery centers. They cited his leadership of the Duke Center for Macular Diseases and his ongoing research in macular degeneration as reasons for the honor.
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