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The common view of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is that of an age-related memory disorder, i.e. declarative memory deficits are the first signs of the disease and associated with progressive brain changes in the medial temporal lobes and the default mode network. However, two findings challenge this view. First, new model-based tools of attention research have revealed that impaired selective attention accompanies memory deficits from early pre-dementia AD stages on. Second, very early distributed lesions of lateral parietal networks may cause these attention deficits by disrupting brain mechanisms underlying attentional biased competition. We suggest that memory and attention impairments might indicate disturbances of a common underlying neurocognitive mechanism. We propose a unifying account of impaired neural interactions within and across brain networks involved in attention and memory inspired by the biased competition principle. We specify this account at two levels of analysis: at the computational level, the selective competition of representations during both perception and memory is biased by AD-induced lesions; at the large-scale brain level, integration within and across intrinsic brain networks, which overlap in parietal and temporal lobes, is disrupted. This account integrates a large amount of previously unrelated findings of changed behaviour and brain networks and favours a brain mechanism-centred view on AD.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





disconnection syndrome, episodic memory, functional connectivity, mild cognitive impairment, parietal cortex, visual cognition, Alzheimer Disease, Attention, Cognition, Field Dependence-Independence, Humans, Memory, Models, Neurological, Parietal Lobe, Visual Perception