A structural and resting-state functional connectivity investigation of the pulvinar in elderly individuals and Alzheimer's disease patients

Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Jul;19(7):2774-2789. doi: 10.1002/alz.12850. Epub 2022 Dec 28.


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), structural and functional changes in the brain may give rise to disruption of specific cognitive functions. The aim of this study is to investigate the functional connectivity alterations in the pulvinar's subdivisions and total pulvinar voxel-based morphometry (VBM) changes in individuals with AD and healthy controls. A seed-based functional connectivity analysis was applied to the anterior, inferior, lateral, and medial pulvinar in each hemisphere. Furthermore, VBM analysis was carried out to compare gray matter (GM) volume differences in the pulvinar and thalamus between the two groups. Connectivity analysis revealed that the pulvinar subdivisions had decreased connectivity in individuals with AD. In addition, the pulvinar and thalamus in each hemisphere were significantly smaller in the AD group. The pulvinar may have a role in AD-related cognitive impairments and the intrinsic connectivity network changes and GM loss in pulvinar subdivisions suggest the cognitive deterioration occurring in those with AD. HIGHLIGHTS: The pulvinar may play a role in pathophysiology of cognitive impairments in those with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Decreased structural volume and functional connectivity were found in patients with AD. The inferior pulvinar is functionally the most affected subdivision by AD compared to the others.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; cognitive impairment; functional magnetic resonance imaging; pulvinar; thalamus; voxel-based morphometry.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Brain
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Gray Matter
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pulvinar* / diagnostic imaging