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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(3):517-26. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120223.

Distinct functional activity of the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex during encoding in the preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Neurology Service, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.


In this study functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is used to investigate the functional brain activation pattern in the preclinical stage of AD (pre-AD) subjects during a visual encoding memory task. Thirty subjects, eleven in the pre-AD stage, with decreased cerebrospinal fluid levels of Aβ42 (<500 pg/ml), and 19 controls with normal Aβ42 levels (CTR) were included. fMRI was acquired during a visual encoding task. Data were analyzed through an Independent Component Analysis (ICA) and region-of-interest-based univariate analysis of task-related BOLD signal change. From the ICA decomposition, we identified the main task-related component, which included the activation of visual associative areas and prefrontal executive regions, and the deactivation of the default-mode network. The activation was positively correlated with task performance in the CTR group (p < 0.0054). Within this pattern, subjects in the pre-AD stage had significantly greater activation of the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex during encoding. Subjects in the pre-AD stage present distinct functional neural activity before the appearance of clinical symptomatology. These findings may represent that subtle changes in functional brain activity precede clinical and cognitive symptoms in the AD continuum. Present findings provide evidence suggesting that fMRI may be a suitable biomarker of preclinical AD.

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