Alternative Title

Neural Activity During Facial Memory Retrieval in Patients with Asthma


Accumulating research indicates that individuals with asthma are at an increased risk for mild cognitive impairment; however, neural contributions to these detected neurocognitive deficits are yet to be elucidated. Recent neuroimaging studies in asthma observe volume reductions in the hippocampus, the primary neural region involved in memory, as well as alterations in the hippocampal chemical composition indicative of neuronal integrity. These studies highlight how both neural structure and chemical composition may be associated with detected neurocognitive deficits in asthma. However, to the best of our knowledge, no study has examined indicators of dynamic neural activity captured by blood oxygenated level dependent (BOLD) signal change through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in patients with asthma during a neurocognitive task. Thus, the present study utilized fMRI to examine group differences in hippocampal signal change of neurocognitively intact individuals with and without asthma during a memory retrieval task, and their association with markers of peripheral physiology relevant to neurocognitive processes.

While no group difference was observed in hippocampal signal change, whole-brain analyses revealed that individuals with asthma demonstrated greater signal change in the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) when engaged in a memory retrieval task. Behaviorally, no group differences were observed for total accuracy, but those with asthma were less accurate identifying previously observed faces.

These findings corroborate previous studies suggesting that individuals with asthma perform poorer on some, but not all, behavioral tasks of neurocognition. Further, imaging analyses suggest that even younger adults with well controlled asthma may be working harder than those without asthma by recruiting additional areas of the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) during memory retrieval. The present study continues to underscore the importance of studying and monitoring neurocognition in individuals with asthma.

Degree Date

Summer 8-4-2020

Document Type


Degree Name





Thomas Ritz

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Kroll_Dissertation_SMU Scholar.pdf (729 kB)
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Available for download on Wednesday, July 30, 2025