Spatial patterns of intrinsic brain activity in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: a resting-state functional MRI study

Zhiqun Wang, Chaogan Yan, Cheng Zhao, Zhigang Qi, Weidong Zhou, Jie Lu, Yong He, Kuncheng Li
Human Brain Mapping 2011, 32 (10): 1720-40
We used resting-state functional MRI to investigate spatial patterns of spontaneous brain activity in 22 healthy elderly subjects, as well as 16 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 16 Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. The pattern of intrinsic brain activity was measured by examining the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) of blood oxygen level dependent signal during rest. There were widespread ALFF differences among the three groups throughout the frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices. Both AD and MCI patients showed decreased activity mainly in the medial parietal lobe region and lentiform nucleus, while there was increased activity in the lateral temporal regions and superior frontal and parietal regions as compared with controls. Compared with MCI, the AD patients showed decreased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and increased activity in the superior frontal gyrus and inferior and superior temporal gyri. Specifically, the most significant ALFF differences among the groups appeared in the posterior cingulate cortex, with a reduced pattern of activity when comparing healthy controls, MCI, and AD patients. Additionally, we also showed that the regions with ALFF changes had significant correlations with the cognitive performance of patients as measured by mini-mental state examination scores. Finally, while taking gray matter volume as covariates, the ALFF results were approximately consistent with those without gray matter correction, implying that the functional analysis could not be explained by regional atrophy. Together, our results demonstrate that there is a specific pattern of ALFF in AD and MCI, thus providing insights into biological mechanisms of the diseases.

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