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Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Feb;160(2):341-9.

Delusional thoughts and regional frontal/temporal cortex metabolism in Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, USA.



Delusional thoughts are common in patients with Alzheimer's disease and contribute prominently to morbidity. The pathophysiologic underpinnings for delusions in Alzheimer's disease are not well understood. In this study the authors examined the relationship between delusional thoughts and regional cortical metabolism in patients with Alzheimer's disease.


Twenty-five patients with probable Alzheimer's disease were included. None was taking psychotropic medication. Severity of delusions and other neuropsychiatric symptoms was assessed by using a semistructured interview and the Neurobehavioral Rating Scale just before the imaging procedure. [(18)F]Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography was used to measure resting cerebral glucose metabolic rates in the cortical lobes and in anatomically defined subregions of the frontal and temporal cortexes.


A linear regression model, controlling for the effects of cognitive deficits, revealed a significant relationship between severity of delusional thought and the metabolic rates in three frontal regions: the right superior dorsolateral frontal cortex (Brodmann's area 8), the right inferior frontal pole (Brodmann's area 10), and the right lateral orbitofrontal region (Brodmann's area 47). Bivariate partial correlation analysis indicated that severity of delusions was associated with hypometabolism in additional prefrontal and anterior cingulate regions. Robust relationships with metabolism in regions of the temporal cortex were not apparent.


Dysmetabolism in specific regions of the right prefrontal cortex may be associated with delusional thought in Alzheimer's disease. Delusions appear to reflect the pathophysiologic state of particular cortical regions. Activity across distributed neuronal networks and the specific content of delusional thoughts may modulate these relationships.

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