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A quantitative analysis of CT and cognitive measures in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Author(s): Pfefferbaum, A
  • Sullivan, EV
  • Jernigan, TL
  • Zipursky, RB
  • Rosenbloom, MJ
  • Yesavage, JA
  • Tinklenberg, JR
  • et al.
Abstract

Patients with presumptive Alzheimer's disease (AD) and healthy community volunteers received computed tomographic (CT) brain scans and cognitive tests. The CT scans were quantitatively analyzed with a semiautomated thresholding technique to derive volumetric measures of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-to-tissue ratios in six regions of interest (ROIs): lateral ventricles; vertex sulci, frontal sulci, Sylvian fissures, parieto-occipital sulci, and third ventricle. Regression analysis was performed on CT data from 85 older volunteers (ages 51-82) to generate age norms for each ROI. Within this group, tissue loss, as measured by the % CSF in each ROI, was highly correlated with age, although each ROI showed different rates of change over age. For all ROIs, the AD group had significantly more tissue loss than expected in normal aging. In addition, AD patients with a presenescent onset (before age 65) tended to have greater vertex sulcal and frontal sulcal tissue reduction than AD patients with a senescent onset (age 65 or after). When regional tissue reduction, corrected for age, was correlated with cognitive test scores, two sets of double dissociations emerged within the AD group: large CT z scores (i.e., decreased tissue and increased CSF) of frontal sulci, but not of the third ventricle, correlated with low Comprehension and Boston Naming Test scores, whereas large CT z scores of the third ventricle, but not of the frontal sulci, correlated with low scores on Digit Symbol and Picture Arrangement. These results suggest that heterogeneity of structural and functional integrity exists among patients with AD.

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