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Normal and pathological aging: Findings of positron-emission-tomography

, : Normal and pathological aging: Findings of positron-emission-tomography. Journal of Neural Transmission 105(8-9): 821-837

Normal aging of the brain is predominantly characterized by metabolic changes in the prefrontal cortex. While in middle age there is a trend to hyperfrontality, PET demonstrates in old age a decline of regional cerebral glucose metabolism in frontal areas. In progeric diseases, clinically apparent as premature aging, the metabolic pattern is similar like in normal aging but qualitatively more severe. In patients with the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) hypometabolism in early dementia is typically present in heteromodal association areas. Hypometabolism then spreads to other cortical and subcortical regions suggesting a characteristic pattern of degeneration that reflects selective vulnerability within limbic-cortical networks. Synaptic plasticity, clinically apparent as cognitive reserve capacity, can be assessed by PET under specific cognitive activation. In AD it is reduced in comparison to age-matched normals and may be influenced by drugs giving trophic support to neurochemical systems.


PMID: 9869321

DOI: 10.1007/s007020050097

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