Functional brain imaging applications to differential diagnosis in the dementias

Curr Opin Neurol. 2002 Aug;15(4):439-44. doi: 10.1097/00019052-200208000-00006.


Purpose of review: The diagnosis of dementia rests on an improved knowledge and a better detection of early impairments, to which functional imaging can certainly contribute.

Recent findings: Progress has been observed at different levels. First, the understanding of different dementias has benefited from explorations of the neural substrate of dementia symptoms and from research into new markers. Second, diverse variables (clinical, anatomical, biochemical) have been related to impaired cerebral activity in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and progress in image analysis and in multimodal data acquisition has allowed a better understanding of the significance of brain activity disturbances. Third, functional imaging has been applied in well-designed clinical studies, and has provided important arguments for the diagnosis of characteristic clinical syndromes in the dementias.

Summary: The functioning of neural networks responsible for clinical symptoms in dementia remains an important research topic for functional imaging. The development of new tracers and new techniques for image processing should also improve the usefulness of brain imaging as a diagnostic tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*