Social and non-social working memory in neurodegeneration

Agustina Legaz, Pavel Prado, Sebastián Moguilner, Sandra Báez, Hernando Santamaría-García, Agustina Birba, Pablo Barttfeld, Adolfo M. García, Sol Fittipaldi, Agustín Ibañez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although social functioning relies on working memory, whether a social-specific mechanism exists remains unclear. This undermines the characterization of neurodegenerative conditions with both working memory and social deficits. We assessed working memory domain-specificity across behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging dimensions in 245 participants. A novel working memory task involving social and non-social stimuli with three load levels was assessed across controls and different neurodegenerative conditions with recognized impairments in: working memory and social cognition (behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia); general cognition (Alzheimer's disease); and unspecific patterns (Parkinson's disease). We also examined resting-state theta oscillations and functional connectivity correlates of working memory domain-specificity. Results in controls and all groups together evidenced increased working memory demands for social stimuli associated with frontocinguloparietal theta oscillations and salience network connectivity. Canonical frontal theta oscillations and executive-default mode network anticorrelation indexed non-social stimuli. Behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia presented generalized working memory deficits related to posterior theta oscillations, with social stimuli linked to salience network connectivity. In Alzheimer's disease, generalized working memory impairments were related to temporoparietal theta oscillations, with non-social stimuli linked to the executive network. Parkinson's disease showed spared working memory performance and canonical brain correlates. Findings support a social-specific working memory and related disease-selective pathophysiological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106171
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Working memory
  • behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia
  • social processing
  • social working memory


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