[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional MRI (fMRI) has great potential for unravelling mechanisms of functional decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), but task-fMRI studies have produced conflicting results, partly due to failure to account for underlying morphological changes, and to variations in ability to perform the tasks. Resting-fMRI is promising because it does not require a task. We aimed to improve the understanding of how resting-fMRI relates to brain function.
80 elderly (25 controls, 25 MCI, 30 AD) underwent a combined multimodal MRI protocol including task-and resting-fMRI. Task-fMRI data were acquired during the execution of a memory paradigm designed to account for differences in task performance. Structural and physiological confounds were modelled for both fMRI modalities.
Successful recognition was associated with increased task-fMRI activation in lateral prefrontal regions in AD relative to controls; this overlapped with increased resting-fMRI functional connectivity in the same regions.
Our results show that task-and resting-fMRI can reveal residual ability over the known changes in brain morphology and cognition occurring in AD, and suggest that resting-fMRI has a potential to measure the effect of new treatments.
Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 11/2013; 84(11):e2. · 4.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There have been a large number of case-control studies using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The objective of this study was to perform an individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis for the estimation of the diagnostic accuracy measures of DTI in the diagnosis of ALS using corticospinal tract data.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases (1966-April 2011) were searched. Studies were included if they used DTI region of interest or tractography techniques to compare mean cerebral corticospinal tract fractional anisotropy values between ALS subjects and healthy controls. Corresponding authors from the identified articles were contacted to collect individual patient data. IPD meta-analysis and meta-regression were performed using Stata. Meta-regression covariate analysis included age, gender, disease duration, and Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale scores.
Of 30 identified studies, 11 corresponding authors provided IPD and 221 ALS patients and 187 healthy control subjects were available for study. Pooled area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.75 (95% CI: 0.66-0.83), pooled sensitivity was 0.68 (95% CI: 0.62-0.75), and pooled specificity was 0.73 (95% CI: 0.66-0.80). Meta-regression showed no significant differences in pooled AUC for each of the covariates. There was moderate to high heterogeneity of pooled AUC estimates. Study quality was generally high. Data from 19 of the 30 eligible studies were not ascertained, raising possibility of selection bias.
Using corticospinal tract individual patient data, the diagnostic accuracy of DTI appears to lack sufficient discrimination in isolation. Additional research efforts and a multimodal approach that also includes ALS mimics will be required to make neuroimaging a critical component in the workup of ALS.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has great potential for measuring mechanisms of functional changes in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment, but task fMRI studies have produced conflicting results, partly due to failure to account for underlying morphological changes and to variations in patients' ability to perform the tasks. Resting fMRI has potential for assessing brain function independently from a task, but greater understanding of how networks of resting functional connectivity relate to the functioning of the brain is needed. We combined resting fMRI and task fMRI to examine the correspondence between these methods in individuals with cognitive impairment. METHODS: Eighty elderly (25 control subjects, 25 mild cognitive impairment, 30 AD) underwent a combined multimodal magnetic resonance imaging protocol including task fMRI and resting fMRI. Task fMRI data were acquired during the execution of a memory paradigm designed to account for differences in task performance. Structural and physiological confounds were modeled for both fMRI modalities. RESULTS: Successful recognition was associated with increased task fMRI activation in lateral prefrontal regions in AD relative to control subjects; this overlapped with increased resting fMRI functional connectivity in the same regions. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that task fMRI and resting fMRI are sensitive markers of residual ability over the known changes in brain morphology and cognition occurring in AD and suggest that resting fMRI has a potential to measure the effect of new treatments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phantom pain after arm amputation is widely believed to arise from maladaptive cortical reorganization, triggered by loss of sensory input. We instead propose that chronic phantom pain experience drives plasticity by maintaining local cortical representations and disrupting inter-regional connectivity. Here we show that, while loss of sensory input is generally characterized by structural and functional degeneration in the deprived sensorimotor cortex, the experience of persistent pain is associated with preserved structure and functional organization in the former hand area. Furthermore, consistent with the isolated nature of phantom experience, phantom pain is associated with reduced inter-regional functional connectivity in the primary sensorimotor cortex. We therefore propose that contrary to the maladaptive model, cortical plasticity associated with phantom pain is driven by powerful and long-lasting subjective sensory experience, such as triggered by nociceptive or top-down inputs. Our results prompt a revisiting of the link between phantom pain and brain organization.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE To explore the value of diffusion tensor imaging applied to those specific cerebral white matter tracts consistently involved pathologically in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as a source of prognostic biomarkers. DESIGN Baseline clinical assessment and 3-T diffusion tensor imaging, repeated after approximately 6 months. Tract-based spatial statistics were used to assess voxelwise correlations of just the baseline diffusion tensor imaging indices with the progression rate (change in disability score/time interval) within the corticospinal tract and corpus callosum. PATIENTS The study involved 21 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 3 patients with primary lateral sclerosis. RESULTS Correlation was observed between fractional anisotropy and progression rate for a region of the corticospinal tract spanning the posterior limb of the internal capsule, with a left hemisphere emphasis. Posterior limb of the internal capsule fractional anisotropy showed potential to distinguish those patients with rapid progression. Axial diffusivity significantly increased in this region in a paired t test analysis of baseline and follow-up diffusion tensor imaging, in keeping with axonal damage. No correlations were noted for the corpus callosum. CONCLUSIONS Posterior limb of the internal capsule fractional anisotropy is a candidate prognostic marker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with potential to identify incident cases with more rapid progression.
Archives of neurology 08/2012; · 6.31 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In patients with Crohn's disease (CD) stress is believed to increase the incidence of disease relapse. The brain processes stressful stimuli and triggers the stress-evoked responses. Habituation to stress is an adaptive process that allows minimizing these responses. We hypothesized inadequate habituation to stress in CD patients. The aim of this study was to compare the neural habituation between CD patients and controls. Twenty CD patients and eighteen controls underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing two repeated runs of a stress-evoking task. The task elicited different neural activity between the groups across runs in (1) amygdala, hippocampus, (2) insula, putamen (3) cerebellar regions, suggesting altered habituation to stress in patients. These structures regulate the neuroendocrine and autonomic stress-evoked responses that control the proinflammatory responses. The inadequate habituation to stress that we found in patients could play a role in the relationship between stress and inflammatory exacerbations in CD.
Journal of Behavioral Medicine 07/2012; · 3.10 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In our contribution to this special issue focusing on advances in Alzheimer's disease (AD) research since the centennial, we will briefly review some of our own studies applying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of function and connectivity for characterization of genetic contributions to the neuropathology of AD and as candidate biomarkers. We review how functional MRI during both memory encoding and at rest is able to define APOE4 genotype-dependent physiological changes decades before potential development of AD and demonstrate changes distinct from those with healthy aging. More generally, imaging provides a powerful quantitative measure of phenotype for understanding associations arising from whole genome studies in AD. Structural connectivity measures derived from diffusion tensor MRI (DTI) methods offer additional markers of neuropathology arising from the secondary changes in axonal caliber and myelination that accompany decreased neuronal activity and neurodegeneration. We illustrate applications of DTI for more finely mapping neurodegenerative changes with AD in the thalamus in vivo and for defining neuropathological changes in the white matter itself. The latter efforts have highlighted how sensitivity to the neuropathology can be enhanced by using more specific DTI measures and interpreting them relative to knowledge of local white matter anatomy in the healthy brain. Together, our studies and related work are helping to establish the exciting potential of a new range of MRI methods as neuropathological measures and as biomarkers of disease progression.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 06/2012; · 4.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be unaware of their cognitive impairment. The neuroanatomical mechanisms underlying this symptom, termed anosognosia or impaired self-awareness, are still poorly understood. In the present study we aimed to explore the functional correlates of self-awareness in patients with MCI and AD. METHODS: Fifty-one participants (17 healthy elderly, 17 patients with MCI, and 17 patients with AD), each accompanied by a study partner, took part in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, in which they were presented with questions regarding themselves (Self condition) or their study partner (Other condition). The study partner was asked to complete a paper questionnaire answering the same questions so the responses of participant and study partner could be compared and "discrepancy" scores calculated for each of the 2 conditions (Self and Other). RESULTS: Behavioural results showed that AD patients had significantly higher "Self discrepancy scores" than controls and MCI patients, whereas there were no significant differences between groups for "Other discrepancy scores". Imaging results showed a significant group-by-condition interaction in brain activation in medial prefrontal and anterior temporal regions, with AD patients showing significantly decreased activation in these regions only for the Self condition. There were no significant differences between Self and Other conditions in either control or MCI groups, suggesting that, in these groups, Self- and Other-appraisal share similar neuroanatomical substrates. CONCLUSIONS: Decreased functional activation of medial prefrontal and anterior temporal cortices is associated with impaired self-awareness in AD patients. This dysfunction, which is specific for Self- but not for Other-appraisal, may be a contributing factor to anosognosia in AD.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imaging studies in blind subjects have consistently shown that sensory and cognitive tasks evoke activity in the occipital cortex, which is normally visual. The precise areas involved and degree of activation are dependent upon the cause and age of onset of blindness. Here, we investigated the cortical language network at rest and during an auditory covert naming task in five bilaterally anophthalmic subjects, who have never received visual input. When listening to auditory definitions and covertly retrieving words, these subjects activated lateral occipital cortex bilaterally in addition to the language areas activated in sighted controls. This activity was significantly greater than that present in a control condition of listening to reversed speech. The lateral occipital cortex was also recruited into a left-lateralized resting-state network that usually comprises anterior and posterior language areas. Levels of activation to the auditory naming and reversed speech conditions did not differ in the calcarine (striate) cortex. This primary 'visual' cortex was not recruited to the left-lateralized resting-state network and showed high interhemispheric correlation of activity at rest, as is typically seen in unimodal cortical areas. In contrast, the interhemispheric correlation of resting activity in extrastriate areas was reduced in anophthalmia to the level of cortical areas that are heteromodal, such as the inferior frontal gyrus. Previous imaging studies in the congenitally blind show that primary visual cortex is activated in higher-order tasks, such as language and memory to a greater extent than during more basic sensory processing, resulting in a reversal of the normal hierarchy of functional organization across 'visual' areas. Our data do not support such a pattern of organization in anophthalmia. Instead, the patterns of activity during task and the functional connectivity at rest are consistent with the known hierarchy of processing in these areas normally seen for vision. The differences in cortical organization between bilateral anophthalmia and other forms of congenital blindness are considered to be due to the total absence of stimulation in 'visual' cortex by light or retinal activity in the former condition, and suggests development of subcortical auditory input to the geniculo-striate pathway.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Replications of the association between APOE-ε4 allele load and regional brain atrophy in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients hold promise for future studies testing relationships between other disease risk gene variants and brain structure. A polymorphism, rs10868366, in the Golgi phosphoprotein 2 gene, GOLM1, was recently identified as an AD risk factor in a genome-wide association study. In a subset of the same AD cohort, we used voxel-based morphometry to test for association between the disease risk genotype and reduced regional gray matter (GM) volume in AD patients (n = 72). A mean 14% reduction in GM volume was observed in the left frontal gyrus with the higher risk GG genotype. A similar association was observed in an independent, dataset of nondemented subjects (n = 278), although with a smaller effect (1%). This replicated association with GM structural variation suggests that GOLM1 polymorphisms may be related to cognitive phenotypes. The greater effect size in AD patients also suggests that the GG genotype could be a risk factor for the expression of cognitive deficits in AD.
Neurobiology of aging 03/2012; 33(3):457-65. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the last decade, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has emerged as a tool to study changes in brain function associated with a genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD), with a particular focus on the effects of the APOE-ε4 allele. This review compiles the existing literature concerning the effects of APOE genotype on the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response, measured during task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging. While most studies report a significant difference in brain activity between carriers and noncarriers of the ε4 allele, there are inconsistencies in the direction and location of change. These inconsistencies were addressed by examining the effect of task, family history of Alzheimer's disease, and age on the relationship between APOE genotype and the BOLD response, but no clear pattern emerged. The review discusses the interpretation of BOLD differences between ε4 carriers and noncarriers, provides suggestions for future studies, and highlights important limitations of this type of research.
Neurobiology of aging 02/2012; 33(2):323-34. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While the functional correlates of spelling impairment have been rarely investigated, to our knowledge no study exists regarding the structural characteristics of spelling impairment and potential changes with interventions. Using diffusion tensor imaging at 3.0 T, we here therefore sought to investigate (a) differences between children with poor spelling abilities (training group and waiting group) and controls, and (b) the effects of a morpheme-based spelling intervention in children with poor spelling abilities on DTI parameters. A baseline comparison of white matter indices revealed significant differences between controls and spelling-impaired children, mainly located in the right hemisphere (superior corona radiata (SCR), posterior limb of internal capsule, superior longitudinal fasciculus). After 5 weeks of training, spelling ability improved in the training group, along with increases in fractional anisotropy and decreases of radial diffusivity in the right hemisphere compared to controls. In addition, significantly higher decreases of mean diffusivity in the right SCR for the spelling-impaired training group compared to the waiting group were observed. Our results suggest that spelling impairment is associated with differences in white-matter integrity in the right hemisphere. We also provide first indications that white matter changes occur during successful training, but this needs to be more specifically addressed in future research.
Brain Structure and Function 12/2011; 217(3):747-60. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We reviewed case-control studies of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in patients with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in order to establish the relative severity and location of white matter microstructural changes. EMBASE and MEDLINE were searched using the keywords, (["diffusion tensor"] and ["Alzheimer*" or "mild cognitive impairment"]), as were reference lists of relevant papers. Forty-one diffusion tensor imaging studies contained data that were suitable for inclusion. Group means and standard deviations for fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity, or p values from 2-sample tests, were extracted and pooled, using standard methods of meta-analysis and metaregression. Fractional anisotropy was decreased in AD in all regions except parietal white matter and internal capsule, while patients with MCI had lower values in all white matter regions except parietally and occipitally. Mean diffusivity was increased in AD in all regions, and in MCI in all but occipital and frontal regions.
Neurobiology of aging 12/2011; 32(12):2322.e5-18. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have demonstrated age-related regional differences in the magnitude of the BOLD signal using task-based fMRI. It has been suggested that functional changes reflect either compensatory or de-differentiation mechanisms, both of which assume response to a specific stimulus. Here, we have tested whether ageing affects both task-based and resting brain function, and the extent to which functional changes are mediated by reductions in grey matter (GM) volume. Two groups, of 22 healthy younger and 22 older volunteers, underwent an imaging protocol involving structural and functional MRI, both during a memory task and at rest. The two groups had similar socio-demographical characteristics and cognitive performance. Image analysis revealed both structural and functional differences. Increased BOLD signal in older relative to younger volunteers was mainly observed in the frontal lobes, both during the task and at rest. Functional changes in the frontal lobes were largely located in brain regions spared from GM loss, and adding GM covariates to the fMRI analysis did not significantly alter the group differences. Our results are consistent with the suggestion that, during normal ageing, the brain responds to neuronal loss by fine-tuning connections between spared neurons. Longitudinal studies will be necessary to fully test this hypothesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as a system failure is a concept supported by the finding of consistent extramotor as well as motor cerebral pathology. The functional correlates of the structural changes detected using advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging and voxel-based morphometry have not been extensively studied. A group of 25 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was compared to healthy control subjects using a multi-modal neuroimaging approach comprising T(1)-weighted, diffusion-weighted and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Using probabilistic tractography, a grey matter connection network was defined based upon the prominent corticospinal tract and corpus callosum involvement demonstrated by white matter tract-based spatial statistics. This 'amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-specific' network included motor, premotor and supplementary motor cortices, pars opercularis and motor-related thalamic nuclei. A novel analysis protocol, using this disease-specific grey matter network as an input for a dual-regression analysis, was then used to assess changes in functional connectivity directly associated with this network. A spatial pattern of increased functional connectivity spanning sensorimotor, premotor, prefrontal and thalamic regions was found. A composite of structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging measures also allowed the qualitative discrimination of patients from controls. An integrated structural and functional connectivity approach therefore identified apparently dichotomous processes characterizing the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cerebral network failure, in which there was increased functional connectivity within regions of decreased structural connectivity. Patients with slower rates of disease progression showed connectivity measures with values closer to healthy controls, raising the possibility that functional connectivity increases might not simply represent a physiological compensation to reduced structural integrity. One alternative possibility is that increased functional connectivity reflects a progressive loss of inhibitory cortical influence as part of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathogenesis, which might then have relevance to future therapeutic strategies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Relatively new developments in MRI, such as functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are rapidly developing into imaging modalities that will become clinically available in the near future. They have in common that their signal is somewhat easier to interpret than structural MRI: fMRI mirrors excess cerebral blood flow, in many cases representing brain activity, MRS gives the average volume concentrations of specific chemical compounds, and DTI reflects "directedness" of micro-anatomical structures, of particular use in white matter where fiber bundle disruption can be detected with great sensitivity. While structural changes in MRI have been disappointing in giving a diagnosis of sufficient sensitivity and specificity, these newer methods hold out hope for elucidating pathological changes and differentiating patient groups more rigorously. This paper summarizes promising research results that will yet have to be translated into real life clinical studies in larger groups of patients (e.g. memory clinic patients). Where available, we have tried to summarize results comparing different types of dementia.
International Psychogeriatrics 09/2011; 23 Suppl 2:S50-7. · 2.19 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele is the best-established genetic risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer's disease, and is also associated with structural gray matter and functional brain changes in healthy young, middle-aged and elderly subjects. Because APOE is implicated in brain mechanisms associated with white matter (WM) development and repair, we investigated the potential role played by the APOE polymorphism on WM structure in healthy younger (aged 20-35 years) and older (aged 50-78 years) adults using diffusion tensor imaging. General reduction of fractional anisotropy and increase in mean diffusivity values was found in carriers of the APOE ɛ4 allele relative to non-carriers. No significant interactions between genotype and age were observed, suggesting that differences in WM structure between APOE ɛ4-carriers and non-carriers do not undergo significant differential changes with age. This result was not explained by differences in brain morphology or cognitive measures. The APOE ɛ4 allele modulates brain WM structure before any clinical or neurophysiological expression of impending disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is a well-established association between APOE genotype and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). Relative to individuals with the common ε3/ε3 genotype, carriers of the ε4 allele are at increased risk of developing AD, while carriers of the ε2 allele appear to be protected against the disease. However, we recently reported that in a sample of cognitively healthy adults, both ε4 and ε2 carriers showed nearly identical changes in the pattern of fMRI activity during memory and non-memory tasks, relative to ε3 homozygotes. These findings suggest that the effects of APOE on brain function are not tightly linked to the effects of this gene on AD risk. Here we test the hypothesis that APOE has an intrinsic effect on the brain's functional networks. Resting-state fMRI was used to compare the pattern of functional connectivity of a variety of resting-state networks between 77 cognitively healthy participants aged 32 to 55 with different APOE genotypes (23 ε2/ε3, 20 ε3/ε3, 26 ε3/ε4, and 8 ε4/ε4). Differences between genotype groups were found in two hippocampal networks, the auditory network, the left frontal-parietal network, and the lateral visual network. While there was considerable variety in the brain regions affected and the direction of change across networks, the main finding was that changes in functional connectivity were similar in ε4 and ε2 carriers, relative to ε3 homozygotes. APOE appears to have an intrinsic effect on the differentiation of functional networks in the brain. This effect is apparent in cognitively healthy adults and does not manifest in a manner reflective of the link between APOE and AD risk. Rather, the effects of APOE on brain function may relate to the role of this gene in neurodevelopment.