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Increased anterior insula connectivity associated with cognitive maintenance in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: a longitudinal study.

The insula, a crucial hub of the human brain network, can be divided into anterior and posterior regions. Previous studies have reported that different insula subregions play various roles in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). However, the longitudinal changes in the functional connectivity (FC) of each insula subregion in aMCI patients over time remain unclear. Twenty aMCI patients and 20 healthy controls (HCs) were recruited and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and neuropsychological assessments at baseline and at the 15-month follow-up. FMRI data were preprocessed using SPM 12 and the CONN toolbox. Two-way analysis of covariance was used to compare longitudinal changes in the FC of each insula subregion with covariates including sex, age, education, follow-up interval, volume of gray matter, and global correlation (GCOR). Pearson's correlation was used to evaluate the relationship between insula subregional FC and neuropsychological performance in aMCI patients. In aMCI patients, the right anterior insula exhibited significantly increased FC with the left anterior cingulate cortex, whereas the left posterior insula exhibited decreased FC with the right precuneus compared with HCs. Furthermore, FC between the right anterior insula and left anterior cingulate cortex was significantly correlated with global cognition at follow-up. The current findings revealed different functional alterations in the insula subregions and provided new insights into the neurodegenerative process in aMCI patients.

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