TitleIndividual differences in socioemotional sensitivity are an index of salience network function.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsToller G, Brown J, Sollberger M, Shdo SM, Bouvet L, Sukhanov P, Seeley WW, Miller BL, Rankin KP
Date Published2018 Jun

Connectivity in intrinsically connected networks (ICNs) may predict individual differences in cognition and behavior. The drastic alterations in socioemotional awareness of patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) are presumed to arise from changes in one such ICN, the salience network (SN). We examined how individual differences in SN connectivity are reflected in overt social behavior in healthy individuals and patients, both to provide neuroscientific insight into this key brain-behavior relationship, and to provide a practical tool to diagnose patients with early bvFTD. We measured SN functional connectivity and socioemotional sensitivity in 65 healthy older adults and 103 patients in the earliest stage [Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) Scale score ≤1] of five neurodegenerative diseases [14 bvFTD, 29 Alzheimer's disease (AD), 20 progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), 21 semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), and 19 non-fluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA)]. All participants underwent resting-state functional imaging and an informant described their responsiveness to subtle emotional expressions using the Revised Self-Monitoring Scale (RSMS). Higher functional connectivity in the SN, predominantly between the right anterior insula (AI) and both "hub" cortical and "interoceptive" subcortical nodes, predicted socioemotional sensitivity among healthy individuals, showing that socioemotional sensitivity is a behavioral marker of SN function, and particularly of right AI functional connectivity. The continuity of this relationship in both healthy and neurologically affected individuals highlights the role of socioemotional sensitivity as an early diagnostic marker of SN connectivity. Clinically, this is particularly important for identification of patients in the earliest stage of bvFTD, where the SN is selectively vulnerable.

Alternate JournalCortex
PubMed ID29656245
Grant ListK01 AG055698 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States