[en] Positron emission tomography in Alzheimer's disease (AD) demonstrates a metabolic decrease, predominantly in associative posterior cortices (comprising the posterior cingulate cortex), and also involving medial temporal structures and frontal regions at a lesser degree. The level of activity in this wide network is roughly correlated with dementia severity, but several confounds (such as age, education or subcortical ischemic lesions) may influence the brain-behaviour relationship. Univariate analyses allow one to segregate brain regions that are particularly closely related to specific neuropsychological performances. For example, a relationship was established between the activity in lateral associative cortices and semantic performance in AD. The role of semantic capacities (subserved by temporal or parietal regions) in episodic memory tasks was also emphasized. The residual activity in medial temporal structures was related to episodic memory abilities, as measured by free recall performance, cued recall ability and recognition accuracy. More generally, AD patients' performance on episodic memory tasks was correlated with the metabolism in several structures of Papez's circuit (including the medial temporal and posterior cingulate regions). Multivariate analyses should provide complementary information on impaired metabolic covariance in functional networks of brain regions and the consequences for AD patients' cognitive performance. More longitudinal studies are being conducted that should tell us more about the prognostic value of initial metabolic impairment and the neural correlates of progressive deterioration of cognitive performance in AD.
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS ; Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme P6/29 ; the EC-FP6-project DiMI ; LSHB-CT-2005-512146