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Neuroimage. 2012 Feb 1;59(3):2098-109. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.10.031. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

MRI patterns of atrophy and hypoperfusion associations across brain regions in frontotemporal dementia.

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Center for Imaging Neurodegenerative Diseases, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides various imaging modes to study the brain. We tested the benefits of a joint analysis of multimodality MRI data in combination with a large-scale analysis that involved simultaneously all image voxels using joint independent components analysis (jICA) and compared the outcome to results using conventional voxel-by-voxel unimodality tests. Specifically, we designed a jICA to decompose multimodality MRI data into independent components that explain joint variations between the image modalities as well as variations across brain regions. We tested the jICA design on structural and perfusion-weighted MRI data from 12 patients diagnosed with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and 12 cognitively normal elderly individuals. While unimodality analyses showed widespread brain atrophy and hypoperfusion in the patients, jICA further revealed two significant joint components of variations between atrophy and hypoperfusion across brain regions. The 1st joint component revealed associated brain atrophy and hypoperfusion predominantly in the right brain hemisphere in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, and the 2nd joint component revealed greater atrophy relative to hypoperfusion affecting predominantly the left hemisphere in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. The patterns are consistent with the clinical symptoms of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia that relate to asymmetric compromises of the left and right brain hemispheres. The joint components also revealed that that structural alterations can be associated with physiological alterations in spatially separated but potentially connected brain regions. Finally, jICA outperformed voxel-by-voxel unimodal tests significantly in terms of an effect size, separating the behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia patients from the controls. Taken together, the results demonstrate the benefit of multimodality MRI in conjunction with jICA for mapping neurodegeneration, which may lead ultimately to an improved diagnosis of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and other forms of neurodegenerative diseases.

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