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J Mol Neurosci. 2003;20(3):241-8.

Hippocampal volume is associated with memory but not monmemory cognitive performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0949, USA.


Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) appears to be a transitional stage in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Patients with MCI show impaired memory performance and hippocampal atrophy relative to normal elderly controls. Prior studies indicate that the degree of hippocampal atrophy in MCI patients predicts conversion to AD. In contrast to patients with MCI who have deficits primarily in memory, AD patients have clinically evident impairments in both memory and nonmemory cognitive domains. One explanation for the observation that a smaller hippocampal volume predicts conversion to AD might be that hippocampal atrophy is associated with early impairment in nonmemory cognitive areas as well as memory. A link between hippocampal volume and nonmemory function could occur if hippocampal atrophy was correlated with AD pathology in other brain regions. We therefore sought to determine the relationship of hippocampal volume with performance on memory and nonmemory tasks in patients with MCI. Although we found a significant correlation between hippocampal volume and memory performance, we did not find a significant correlation between hippocampal volume and nonmemory performance. We conclude that the relationship between hippocampal volume and risk of AD is likely tied to reduced memory performance and not associated with impairment in nonmemory cognitive domains.

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