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Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2005 Dec;16(6):409-25.

Comparisons between Alzheimer disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and normal aging with brain mapping.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are both common degenerative dementias in the under 65 age group. Although clinical criteria have been defined for both diseases, there is considerable overlap in clinical features, and hence, diagnosis still can be very difficult particularly in the early stages of the disease. As a result, there has been increasing interest in using magnetic resonance imaging to better characterize these diseases and to aid in diagnosis. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) is an automated technique that assesses patterns of regional gray matter atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging between 2 groups of subjects. It is unbiased in that it looks throughout the whole brain and does not require any a priori assumptions concerning which structures to assess, giving it a significant advantage over traditional region of interest-based methods. Voxel-based morphometry has been widely used to assess patterns of regional atrophy in subjects with AD and FTLD. These studies have demonstrated specific patterns of regional loss in both diseases, compared the 2 diseases to look for differences that could be diagnostically useful, and have correlated regions of gray matter loss to cognitive and behavioral deficits in these subjects. This article will review the findings of these studies and discuss the role of VBM in these neurodegenerative diseases.

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