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Psychiatry Res. 2006 Apr 30;146(3):251-61. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

Volumetry of amygdala and hippocampus and memory performance in Alzheimer's disease.

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Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, One Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is showing increased utility in examining medial temporal lobe atrophy and its relationship to memory performance in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We studied 56 AD patients and 42 older healthy subjects with neuropsychological assessment and MRI. Hippocampal and amygdaloid volumes (normalized to intracranial volume) were contrasted between AD patients and healthy controls and correlated with neuropsychological performance. Comparisons between AD patients and healthy controls revealed highly significant differences in the normalized volume of hippocampus and amygdala by analysis of covariance. Group differences tended to be at least as large for amygdaloid as hippocampal volume, including when the subset of AD patients with the mildest symptoms was considered separately. Within the AD group, performance on the Memory-Orientation subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognition (ADAS-Cog) was significantly correlated with normalized amygdaloid volume but not with normalized hippocampal volume. Other ADAS-Cog subscales (Language, Praxis) were uncorrelated with either volume. In the healthy control sample, neither hippocampal nor amygdaloid volumes were significant predictors of any neuropsychological measure. While a substantial literature continues to justify the focus on the hippocampus in MRI studies of AD, these results suggest that the amygdala should receive similar attention, including in studies of the prodromal stages of AD.

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