Is the Alzheimer's disease cortical thickness signature a biological marker for memory?

Brain Imaging Behav. 2016 Jun;10(2):517-23. doi: 10.1007/s11682-015-9413-5.


Recent work suggests that analysis of the cortical thickness in key brain regions can be used to identify individuals at greatest risk for development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is unclear to what extent this "signature" is a biological marker of normal memory function - the primary cognitive domain affected by AD. We examined the relationship between the AD signature biomarker and memory functioning in a group of neurologically healthy young and older adults. Cortical thickness measurements and neuropsychological evaluations were obtained in 110 adults (age range 21-78, mean = 46) drawn from the Brain Resource International Database. The cohort was divided into young adult (n = 64, age 21-50) and older adult (n = 46, age 51-78) groups. Cortical thickness analysis was performed with FreeSurfer, and the average cortical thickness extracted from the eight regions that comprise the AD signature. Mean AD-signature cortical thickness was positively associated with performance on the delayed free recall trial of a list learning task and this relationship did not differ between younger and older adults. Mean AD-signature cortical thickness was not associated with performance on a test of psychomotor speed, as a control task, in either group. The results suggest that the AD signature cortical thickness is a marker for memory functioning across the adult lifespan.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; Cortical thickness; Memory; Neuropsychology; Structural MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Biomarkers