Send to

Choose Destination
Neurology. 1995 Feb;45(2):356-66.

Selective neuroanatomic abnormalities in Down's syndrome and their cognitive correlates: evidence from MRI morphometry.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, TN 38152.


We examined the pattern of neuroanatomic abnormalities in adults with Down's syndrome (DS) and the cognitive correlates of these abnormalities. Specifically, we compared this pattern with what would be predicted by the hypotheses attributing DS pathology to either premature aging or Alzheimer's disease. We measured a number of brain regions on MRIs of 25 subjects: 13 persons with the DS phenotype and 12 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Study participants had no history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, or seizure disorder. After statistical adjustment for differences in body size, we found that, in comparison with controls, DS subjects had substantially smaller cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres, ventral pons, mammillary bodies, and hippocampal formations. In the cerebellar vermis of DS subjects, we observed smaller lobules VI to VIII without appreciable differences in other regions. In addition, we noted trends for shrinkage of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, inferior temporal and parietal cortices, parietal white matter, and pericalcarine cortex in DS subjects compared with normal controls. The parahippocampal gyrus was larger in DS subjects. We found no significant group differences in the volumes of the prefrontal white matter, the orbitofrontal cortex, the pre- and postcentral gyri, or the basal ganglia. We conclude that the pattern of selective cerebral damage in DS does not clearly fit the predictions of the premature aging or Alzheimer's disease hypotheses. To examine the relationship between brain abnormalities and cognitive deficits observed in DS, we correlated the size of brain regions that were significantly reduced in DS with performance on tests of intelligence and language. The correlation analysis suggested age-related decline in the DS subjects in general intelligence and basic linguistic skills. General intelligence and mastery of linguistic concepts correlated negatively with the volume of the parahippocampal gyrus. There was no relationship between total brain size and the cognitive variables.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center