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Memory Loss May Affect Several Brain Regions

Study of patients with mild cognitive impairment shows altered function in frontal, temporal lobes

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), there may be altered functionality in both the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, according to a study in the July issue of Radiology.

Jeffrey R. Petrella, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues used a high-field-strength functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner to study brain activity during a memory task administered to 20 elderly patients with amnestic MCI, and 20 age-matched controls.

The researchers found that the MCI patients had decreased magnitude of activation in the bilateral frontal cortex regions during encoding and retrieval, in the left hippocampus during retrieval and in the left cerebellum during encoding, compared with controls. They also found that MCI patients had increased activation in the posterior frontal lobes during retrieval. They determined that the most significant correlate of clinical severity of memory loss in MCI was lower hippocampal activation during retrieval.

"Results of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in which investigators directly examine the connectivity between temporal and extratemporal multimodality association areas, as well as results of longitudinal studies involving larger samples, may yield further insight into the early pathophysiologic findings in Alzheimer disease and its prodromal states," the authors conclude.

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