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Neurobiol Aging. 2003 Jul-Aug;24(4):537-44.

Comparison of methods for measuring longitudinal brain change in cognitive impairment and dementia.

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Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Magnetic Resonance Unit, 4150 Clement Street (116R), San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.



The goal of this project was to compare MRI measures of hippocampal, entorhinal cortex (ERC), and whole brain longitudinal change in cognitively normal elderly controls (C), non-demented subjects with cognitive impairment (CI), and demented (D) subjects.


16 C, 6 CI, and 7 D subjects of comparable age were studied with MRI twice, at least 1 year apart. Longitudinal change in total brain size was measured by several methods, including computerized segmentation, non-linear warping, and change in the fluid/tissue boundaries between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain. Change in hippocampal volume was measured by semi-automated methods, and ERC volumes were manually measured.


The annual rate of atrophy was greater in D versus C and D versus CI for cortical gray matter (cGM) (P=0.009 and 0.002), hippocampus (P=0.0001 and 0.002), and for the change in the fluid/tissue boundary (P=0.03 and 0.03). The annual rate of atrophy of ERC was greater in both CI and D versus C (P=0.01 and 0.0002). No significant differences between groups were found using non-linear warping.


In CI, the greatest annual rates of atrophy were in ERC, while in D the greatest annual rates of atrophy were in hippocampus and cortex. Progressive ERC atrophy was observed with a greater degree of cognitive impairment, while hippocampal and cortical atrophy were only observed in demented subjects.

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