Primary Progressive Aphasia Not Linked to Memory Loss, Study Shows

brain connection

A new study has found that people diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) may not experience memory loss as the disease progresses.

PPA, one of the FTD disorders, affects language skills and is characterized by the gradual loss of the ability to speak, read, write, and understand what others are saying.

“While we knew that the memories of people with primary progressive aphasia were not affected at first, we did not know if they maintained their memory functioning over years,” said M. Marsel Mesulam, M.D. of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a press release.

Mesulam, who also serves as a member of AFTD’s Medical Advisory Council, explained that “this has been difficult to determine because most memory tests rely on verbal skills that these people have lost or are losing.”

The study — published in the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal Neurology — observed 17 people with PPA with Alzheimer’s pathology. They were compared to 14 people who had typical Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss. Both groups took memory tests, including recalling objects and words, as well as language tests.

Researchers took brain scans of the individuals with PPA to see how the disease affected the areas of the brain related to memory. The results showed that the participants with PPA had no decline in their memory skills when they took the tests a second time.

“More research is needed to help us determine what factors allow these people to show this resilience of memory skills even in the face of considerable Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the brain,” Mesulam said.

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