Cortical thinning and its relation to cognition in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Jan;35(1):240-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.07.020. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Clinical, genetic, and pathological findings suggest a close relationship between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We studied the patterns of cortical atrophy across the spectrum between ALS and ALS-FTD. A surface-based morphometry analysis based on an age- and sex-matched sample of 81 ALS patients and 62 healthy control subjects (HC) was conducted. In addition, we used an age-matched subsample of 57 ALS patients and 31 HC to compare cortical thickness between 3 groups of neuropsychologically characterized ALS patients: (1) cognitively unimpaired; (2) cognitively impaired; and (3) ALS-FTD patients. Compared with HC, the entire sample of patients demonstrated cortical thinning in the bilateral precentral gyrus, right precuneus, and right frontal and temporal lobes. ALS-FTD patients showed cortical thinning in regions including the frontal and temporal gyri and the posterior cingulate cortex. Cognitively impaired ALS patients showed cortical thinning in regions largely overlapping with those found in ALS-FTD, but changes were less widespread. In conclusion, the cognitive status of ALS subjects is associated with different patterns of cortical atrophy.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Cognition; Cortical thickness; FreeSurfer; Frontotemporal dementia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Atrophy
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / etiology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests