Introduction: Previous studies reveal that a newly described white matter pathway, the frontal aslant tract (FAT), connecting inferior and superior frontal gyri has a role in speech and language functions. We explored the role of this tract in a phonemic and semantic fluency tasks in a cohort of multiple sclerosis patients diagnosed with cognitive impairment. Methods: Thirty-five MS patients with varying degrees of cognitive impairment underwent diffusion tensor imaging and the Controlled Associated Word Test. Fractional anisotropy (FA) of FAT and arcuate fasciculus (AF) were obtained through a supervised, atlas-based tissue segmentation and parcellation method. Phonemic and semantic fluency scores were obtained from COWAT. We ran a multivariate regression model, and partial correlation analyses adjusted for age, education, and lesion load, and corrected for multiple comparisons. False discovery rate (FDR) was used for the correction of multiple comparisons. Results: Bilateral FAT FA showed significant association with phonemic verbal fluency task (Left; r = 0.46, p = 0.0058 and right; r = 0.46, p = 0.0059) but not semantic fluency task and this relation remained significant after FDR correction (p = 0.02 bilaterally). Although left AF showed some significant association with phonemic fluency task, this relation was insignificant after FDR correction. Conclusion: We show that bilateral FAT are correlates of phonemic verbal fluency task but not semantic in an MS cohort with cognitive impairment. This finding suggests that FAT is more specialized in lexical retrieval function as semantic fluency test encompasses all the functions except the lexical retrieval.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by a K-23 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NS 072134] training award to Dr. Flavia M. Nelson. John S. Dunn Foundation to Dr. Khader M. Hasan.
- Frontal aslant tract
- diffusion tensor imaging
- multiple sclerosis
- verbal fluency
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article