Toward systems neuroscience in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis of 75 fMRI studies

Hum Brain Mapp. 2015 Mar;36(3):1217-32. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22689. Epub 2014 Nov 19.


Most of the previous task functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies found abnormalities in distributed brain regions in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), and few studies investigated the brain network dysfunction from the system level. In this meta-analysis, we aimed to examine brain network dysfunction in MCI and AD. We systematically searched task-based fMRI studies in MCI and AD published between January 1990 and January 2014. Activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses were conducted to compare the significant group differences in brain activation, the significant voxels were overlaid onto seven referenced neuronal cortical networks derived from the resting-state fMRI data of 1,000 healthy participants. Thirty-nine task-based fMRI studies (697 MCI patients and 628 healthy controls) were included in MCI-related meta-analysis while 36 task-based fMRI studies (421 AD patients and 512 healthy controls) were included in AD-related meta-analysis. The meta-analytic results revealed that MCI and AD showed abnormal regional brain activation as well as large-scale brain networks. MCI patients showed hypoactivation in default, frontoparietal, and visual networks relative to healthy controls, whereas AD-related hypoactivation mainly located in visual, default, and ventral attention networks relative to healthy controls. Both MCI-related and AD-related hyperactivation fell in frontoparietal, ventral attention, default, and somatomotor networks relative to healthy controls. MCI and AD presented different pathological while shared similar compensatory large-scale networks in fulfilling the cognitive tasks. These system-level findings are helpful to link the fundamental declines of cognitive tasks to brain networks in MCI and AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; default mode; fMRI; mild cognitive impairment; neuronal network.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*