Voxel-based mapping of brain gray matter volume and glucose metabolism profiles in normal aging

Neurobiol Aging. 2009 Jan;30(1):112-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.05.019. Epub 2007 Jul 13.


With age, the brain undergoes both structural and functional alterations, probably resulting in reported cognitive declines. Relatively few investigations have sought to identify those areas that remain intact with aging, or undergo the least deterioration, which might underlie cognitive preservations. Our aim here was to establish a comprehensive profile of both structural and functional changes in the aging brain, using up-to-date voxel-based methodology (i.e. optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) procedure; resting-state (18)FDG-PET with correction for partial volume effects (PVE)) in 45 optimally healthy subjects aged 20-83 years. Negative and positive correlations between age and both gray matter (GM) volume and (18)FDG uptake were assessed. The frontal cortex manifested the greatest deterioration, both structurally and functionally, whereas the anterior hippocampus, the thalamus and (functionally) the posterior cingulate cortex were the least affected. Our results support the developmental theory which postulates that the first regions to emerge phylogenetically and ontogenetically are the most resistant to age effects, and the last ones the most vulnerable. Furthermore, the lesser affected anterior hippocampal region, together with the lesser functional alteration of the posterior cingulate cortex, appear to mark the parting of the ways between normal aging and Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by early and prominent deterioration of both structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Organ Size
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Young Adult


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18