Skip to main content Accessibility help

Other magnetic resonance imaging techniques

  • Klaus P. Ebmeier (a1), Nicola Filippini (a1), Verena Heise (a1) and Claire E. Sexton (a1)


Relatively new developments in MRI, such as functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are rapidly developing into imaging modalities that will become clinically available in the near future. They have in common that their signal is somewhat easier to interpret than structural MRI: fMRI mirrors excess cerebral blood flow, in many cases representing brain activity, MRS gives the average volume concentrations of specific chemical compounds, and DTI reflects “directedness” of micro-anatomical structures, of particular use in white matter where fiber bundle disruption can be detected with great sensitivity. While structural changes in MRI have been disappointing in giving a diagnosis of sufficient sensitivity and specificity, these newer methods hold out hope for elucidating pathological changes and differentiating patient groups more rigorously. This paper summarizes promising research results that will yet have to be translated into real life clinical studies in larger groups of patients (e.g. memory clinic patients). Where available, we have tried to summarize results comparing different types of dementia.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Professor K. P. Ebmeier, University Department, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. Phone and Fax: +44 1865 226469; Email:


Hide All
Acosta-Cabronero, J., Williams, G. B., Pengas, G. and Nestor, P. J. (2010). Absolute diffusivities define the landscape of white matter degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Brain, 133, 529539.
Arthurs, O. J. and Boniface, S. (2002). How well do we understand the neural origins of the fMRI BOLD signal? Trends in Neuroscience, 25, 2731.
Bai, F. et al. (2009). Abnormal integrity of association fiber tracts in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Neurological Science, 278, 102106.
Bartzokis, G. (2004). Age-related myelin breakdown: a developmental model of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 25, 518; author reply 49–62.
Bozzali, M. et al. (2002). White matter damage in Alzheimer's disease assessed in vivo using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 72, 742746.
Bozzali, M. et al. (2005). Brain tissue damage in dementia with Lewy bodies: an in vivo diffusion tensor MRI study. Brain, 128, 15951604.
Buckner, R. L., Snyder, A. Z., Sanders, A. L., Raichle, M. E. and Morris, J. C. (2000). Functional brain imaging of young, nondemented, and demented older adults. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12 (Suppl. 2), 2434.
Celone, K. A. et al. (2006). Alterations in memory networks in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: an independent component analysis. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 1022210231.
Chen, T. F. et al. (2009). Diffusion tensor changes in patients with amnesic mild cognitive impairment and various dementias. Psychiatry Research, 173, 1521.
Dennis, N. A. et al. (2010). Temporal lobe functional activity and connectivity in young adult APOE ε4 carriers. Alzheimer's Dementia, 6, 303311.
Dickerson, B. C. et al. (2005). Increased hippocampal activation in mild cognitive impairment compared to normal aging and AD. Neurology, 65, 404411.
Duan, J. H. et al. (2006). White matter damage of patients with Alzheimer's disease correlated with the decreased cognitive function. Surgical Radiology and Anatomy, 28, 150156.
Fayed, N., Davila, J., OliverosA., Jr. A., Jr., Medrano, J. and Castillo, J. (2010). Correlation of findings in advanced MR techniques with global severity scales in patients with some grade of cognitive impairment. Neurological Research, 32, 157165.
Fellgiebel, A. et al. (2004). Ultrastructural hippocampal and white matter alterations in mild cognitive impairment: a diffusion tensor imaging study. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 18, 101108.
Filbey, F. M., Chen, G., Sunderland, T. and Cohen, R. M. (2010). Failing compensatory mechanisms during working memory in older apolipoprotein E-ε4 healthy adults. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 4, 177188.
Filippini, N. et al. (2009). Distinct patterns of brain activity in young carriers of the APOE-ε4 allele. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 106, 72097214.
Filippini, N. et al. (2011). Differential effects of the APOE genotype on brain function across the lifespan. Neuroimage, 54, 602610.
Greicius, M. D., Srivastava, G., Reiss, A. L. and Menon, V. (2004). Default-mode network activity distinguishes Alzheimer's disease from healthy aging: evidence from functional MRI. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 101, 46374642.
Hamalainen, A. et al. (2007). Increased fMRI responses during encoding in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging, 28, 18891903.
Heise, V., Filippini, N., Ebmeier, K. P. and Mackay, C. E. (2010). The APOE ε4 allele modulates brain white integrity in healthy adults. Molecular Psychiatry. Epublished ahead of print, doi:10.1038/mp.2010.90.
Honea, R., Vidoni, E., Harsha, A. and Burns, J. (2009). Impact of APOE on the healthy aging brain: a voxel-based MRI and DTI study. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 18, 553564.
Johnson, S. C. et al. (2006). Activation of brain regions vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease: the effect of mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging, 27, 16041612.
Jones, R. S. and Waldman, A. D. (2004). 1H-MRS evaluation of metabolism in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Neurological Research, 26, 488495.
Kantarci, K. et al. (2009). Risk of dementia in MCI: combined effect of cerebrovascular disease, volumetric MRI, and 1H MRS. Neurology, 72, 15191525.
Kantarci, K. et al. (2010). Dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer disease: neurodegenerative patterns characterized by DTI. Neurology, 74, 18141821.
Kircher, T.T. et al. (2007). Hippocampal activation in patients with mild cognitive impairment is necessary for successful memory encoding. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 78, 812818.
Lee, J. E. et al. (2010). A comparative analysis of cognitive profiles and white-matter alterations using voxel-based diffusion tensor imaging between patients with Parkinson's disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 81, 320326.
Li, H. et al. (2008). Candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms from a genomewide association study of Alzheimer disease. Archives of Neurology, 65, 4553.
Lin, A. P., Tran, T. T. and Ross, B. D. (2006). Impact of evidence-based medicine on magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NMR Biomedicine, 19, 476483.
Machulda, M. M. et al. (2003). Comparison of memory fMRI response among normal, MCI, and Alzheimer's patients. Neurology, 61, 500506.
Mielke, M. M. et al. (2009). Regionally-specific diffusion tensor imaging in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Neuroimage, 46, 4755.
Nakata, Y. et al. (2009). Diffusion abnormality in the posterior cingulum and hippocampal volume: correlation with disease progression in Alzheimer's disease. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 27, 347354.
Ota, M. et al. (2009). Degeneration of dementia with Lewy bodies measured by diffusion tensor imaging. NMR Biomedicine, 22, 280284.
Paul, R. H. et al. (2007). Proton MRS and neuropsychological correlates in AIDS dementia complex: evidence of subcortical specificity. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 19, 283292.
Penner, J., Rupsingh, R., Smith, M., Wells, J. L., Borrie, M. J. and Bartha, R. (2010). Increased glutamate in the hippocampus after galantamine treatment for Alzheimer disease. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 34, 104110.
Prvulovic, D., van de Ven, V., Sack, A. T., Maurer, K. and Linden, D. E. (2005). Functional activation imaging in aging and dementia. Psychiatry Research, 140, 97113.
Rombouts, S. A., van Swieten, J. C., Pijnenburg, Y. A., Goekoop, R., Barkhof, F. and Scheltens, P. (2003). Loss of frontal fMRI activation in early frontotemporal dementia compared to early AD. Neurology, 60, 19041908.
Sauer, J., ffytche, D. H., Ballard, C., Brown, R. G. and Howard, R. (2006). Differences between Alzheimer's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies: an fMRI study of task-related brain activity. Brain, 129, 17801788.
Schwindt, G. C. and Black, S. E. (2009). Functional imaging studies of episodic memory in Alzheimer's disease: a quantitative meta-analysis. Neuroimage, 45, 181190.
Sexton, C. E., Kalu, U. G., Filippini, N., Mackay, C. E. and Ebmeier, K. P. (2010a). A meta-analysis of diffusion tensor imaging in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiology of Aging. Epublished ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.05.019.
Sexton, C. E. et al. (2010b). MRI correlates of episodic memory in Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, and healthy aging. Psychiatry Research 184, 5762.
Small, S. A., Perera, G. M., DeLaPaz, R., Mayeux, R. and Stern, Y. (1999). Differential regional dysfunction of the hippocampal formation among elderly with memory decline and Alzheimer's disease. Annals of Neurology, 45, 466472.
Smith, C. D. et al. (2010). White matter diffusion alterations in normal women at risk of Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 31, 11221131.
Sorg, C. et al. (2007). Selective changes of resting-state networks in individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 104, 1876018765.
Sperling, R. (2007). Functional MRI studies of associative encoding in normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1097, 146155.
Sperling, R. A. et al. (2003). fMRI studies of associative encoding in young and elderly controls and mild Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 74, 4450.
Stromillo, M. L. et al. (2009). Structural and metabolic brain abnormalities in preclinical cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 80, 4147.
Trachtenberg, A. J., Filippini, N. and Mackay, C. E. (2010). The effects of APOE-ε4 on the BOLD response. Neurobiology of Aging. Epublished ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.03.009.
Ukmar, M., Makuc, E., Onor, M. L., Garbin, G., Trevisiol, M. and Cova, M. A. (2008). Evaluation of white matter damage in patients with Alzheimer's disease and in patients with mild cognitive impairment by using diffusion tensor imaging. Radiological Medicine, 113, 915922.
Watanabe, T., Shiino, A. and Akiguchi, I. (2010). Absolute quantification in proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy is useful to differentiate amnesic mild cognitive impairment from Alzheimer's disease and healthy aging. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 30, 7177.
Watson, R., Blamire, A. M. and O'Brien, J. T. (2009). Magnetic resonance imaging in lewy body dementias. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 28, 493506.
Whitwell, J. L. et al. (2010). Gray and white matter water diffusion in the syndromic variants of frontotemporal dementia. Neurology, 74, 12791287.
Zarei, M. et al. (2009). Regional white matter integrity differentiates between vascular dementia and Alzheimer disease. Stroke, 40, 773779.
Zhang, Y. et al. (2009). White matter damage in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease measured by diffusion MRI. Brain, 132, 25792592.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed