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Altered neural activity in the 'when' pathway during temporal processing in fragile X premutation carriers

  • Author(s): Kim, SY
  • Tassone, F
  • Simon, TJ
  • Rivera, SM
  • et al.
Abstract

Mutations of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene are the genetic cause of fragile X syndrome (FXS). Large expansions of the CGG repeat (>200 repeats) consequently result in transcriptional silencing of the FMR1 gene and deficiency/absence of the FMR1 protein (FMRP). Carriers with a premutation allele (55-200 of CGG repeats) are often associated with mildly reduced levels of FMRP and/or elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA. Recent studies have shown that infants with FXS exhibit severely reduced resolution of temporal attention, whereas spatial resolution of attention is not impaired. Following from these findings in the full mutation, the current study used fMRI to examine whether premutation carriers would exhibit atypical temporal processing at behavioral and/or neural levels. Using spatial and temporal working memory (SWM and TWM) tasks, separately tagging spatial and temporal processing, we demonstrated that neurotypical adults showed greater activation in the '. when pathway' (i.e., the right temporoparietal junction: TPJ) during TWM retrieval than SWM retrieval. However, premutation carriers failed to show this increased involvement of the right TPJ during retrieval of temporal information. Further, multiple regression analyses on right TPJ activation and FMR1 gene expression (i.e., CGG repeat size and FMR1 mRNA) suggests that elevated FMR1 mRNA level is a powerful predictor accounting for reduced right TPJ activation associated with temporal processing in premutation carriers. In conclusion, the current study provides the first evidence on altered neural correlates of temporal processing in adults with the premutation, explained by their FMR1 gene expression. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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