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BMC Neurol. 2013 Oct 18;13:148. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-13-148.

Extent of cortical involvement in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--an analysis based on cortical thickness.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, Lübeck, 23538, Germany. Thomas.muente@neuro.uni-luebeck.de.



Besides the defining involvement of upper and lower motor neurons, the involvement of extramotor structures has been increasingly acknowledged in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


Here we investigated a group of 14 mildly to moderately affected ALS patients and 14 age-matched healthy control participants using cortical thickness analysis. Cortical thickness was determined from high resolution 3D T1 magnetic resonance images and involved semiautomatic segmentation in grey and white matter, cortical alignment and determination of thickness using the Laplace method. In addition to a whole-cortex analysis a region of interest approach was applied.


ALS patients showed regions of significant cortical thinning in the pre- and postcentral gyri bilaterally. Further regions of cortical thinning included superior and inferior parietal lobule, angular and supramarginal gyrus, insula, superior frontal, temporal and occipital regions, thus further substantiating extramotor involvement in ALS. A relationship between cortical thickness of the right superior frontal cortex and clinical severity (assessed by the ALS functional rating scale) was also demonstrated.


Cortical thickness is reduced in ALS not only in motor areas but in widespread non-motor cortical areas. Cortical thickness is related to clinical severity.

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