Functional Response in Ventral Temporal Cortex Differentiates Mild Cognitive Impairment from Normal Aging


This study sought to identify altered brain activation patterns in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that could precede frank task impairment and neocortical atrophy. A high-accuracy lexical decision (LD) task was therefore employed. Both MCI and normal seniors (NS) groups completed the LD task while functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed. Accuracy on the LD task was high (> or =89% correct for both groups), and both groups activated a network of occipitotemporal regions and inferior frontal cortex. However, compared with the NS group, the MCI group showed reduced fMRI activation in these regions and increased activation in bilateral portions of anterior cingluate cortex. The results from a voxel-based morphometry analysis indicated that altered activations in the MCI group were not within regions of atrophy. Receiver operating characteristic curves demonstrated that reduced fMRI response in the left and right midfusiform gyri accurately discriminated MCI from NS. When activation magnitude in both fusiform gyri were included in a single logistic regression model, group classification accuracy was very high (area under the curve = 0.93). These results showed that a disrupted functional response in the ventral temporal lobe accurately distinguishes individuals with MCI from NS, a finding which may have implications for identifying seniors at risk for cognitive decline.

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Published in Human Brain Mapping, v. 31, issue 8, p. 1249–1259.

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