Greater default-mode network abnormalities compared to high order visual processing systems in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: an integrated multi-modal MRI study

J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;22(2):523-39. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-101038.


We conducted an integrated multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study based on functional MRI (fMRI) data during a complex but cognitively preserved visual task in 15 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) patients and 15 Healthy Elders (HE). Independent Component Analysis of fMRI data identified a functional network containing an Activation Task Related Pattern (ATRP), including regions of the dorsal and ventral visual stream, and a Deactivation Task Related Pattern network (DTRP), with high spatial correspondence with the default-mode network (DMN). Gray matter (GM) volumes of the underlying ATRP and DTRP cortical areas were measured, and probabilistic tractography (based on diffusion MRI) identified fiber pathways within each functional network. For the ATRP network, a-MCI patients exhibited increased fMRI responses in inferior-ventral visual areas, possibly reflecting compensatory activations for more compromised dorsal regions. However, no significant GM or white matter group differences were observed within the ATRP network. For the DTRP/DMN, a-MCI showed deactivation deficits and reduced GM volumes in the posterior cingulate/precuneus, excessive deactivations in the inferior parietal lobe, and less fiber tract integrity in the cingulate bundles. Task performance correlated with DTRP-functionality in the HE group. Besides allowing the identification of functional reorganizations in the cortical network directly processing the task-stimuli, these findings highlight the importance of conducting integrated multi-modal MRI studies in MCI based on spared cognitive domains in order to identify functional abnormalities in critical areas of the DMN and their precise anatomical substrates. These latter findings may reflect early neuroimaging biomarkers in dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amnesia / complications
  • Amnesia / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / classification
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / blood supply
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Visual Cortex* / blood supply
  • Visual Cortex* / pathology
  • Visual Cortex* / physiopathology
  • Visual Pathways* / blood supply
  • Visual Pathways* / pathology
  • Visual Pathways* / physiopathology
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Oxygen