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Functional connectivity in cortical regions in dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Eva Lowther, Professor Andrew BlamireORCiD, Dr Michael FirbankORCiD, Professor John O'Brien


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Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, spontaneous low-frequency fluctuations in the blood oxygenation level-dependent signal were measured to investigate connectivity between key brain regions hypothesized to be differentially affected in dementia with Lewy bodies compared with Alzheimer's disease and healthy controls. These included connections of the hippocampus, because of its role in learning, and parietal and occipital areas involved in memory, attention and visual processing. Connectivity was investigated in 47 subjects aged 60 years and over: 15 subjects with dementia with Lewy bodies, 16 subjects with Alzheimer's disease and 16 control subjects. Subjects were scanned using a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging system. The mean blood oxygenation level-dependent signal time series was extracted from seed regions in the hippocampus, posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and primary visual cortex and correlated with all other brain voxels to determine functional connectivity. Both subjects with dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease showed greater connectivity than control subjects. Compared with controls, the dementia with Lewy bodies group had greater connectivity between the right posterior cingulate cortex and other brain areas. In dementia with Lewy bodies, there were no significant differences in hippocampal connectivity compared with controls, but in Alzheimer's disease left hippocampal connectivity was greater compared with controls. There were no significant differences between groups for precuneus or primary visual cortex connectivity. No seed regions showed significantly less connectivity in subjects with dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer's disease compared with controls. We found greater connectivity with the posterior cingulate in dementia with Lewy bodies and with the hippocampus in Alzheimer's disease. Consistent with the known relative preservation of memory in dementia with Lewy bodies compared with Alzheimer's disease, hippocampal connectivity was not found to be greater in dementia with Lewy bodies. Importantly, while metabolic imaging shows functional change in primary visual cortex in dementia with Lewy bodies, which is hypothesized to account for visual hallucinations, we found connectivity with this region to be unaffected. This implicates areas beyond visual sensory input level in the visual symptoms and visual-perceptual dysfunction seen in dementia with Lewy bodies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kenny ER, Blamire AM, Firbank MJ, O'Brien JT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Brain

Year: 2012

Volume: 135

Issue: 2

Pages: 569-581

Print publication date: 20/12/2011

ISSN (print): 0006-8950

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2156

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/brain/awr327


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council
UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
ART-PPG2007A-2Alzheimer's Research UK