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Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) can be difficult to differentiate clinically due to overlapping symptoms. Subject classification in research studies is often based on clinical rather than pathological criteria which may mean some subjects are misdiagnosed and misclassified. Recently, methods measuring cortical thickness using magnetic resonance imaging have been suggested to be effective in differentiating between clinically-defined AD and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in addition to showing disease-related patterns of atrophy. In this study we used FreeSurfer, a freely-available and automated software tool, to measure cortical thickness in 28 pathologically-confirmed AD patients, of which 11 had a typical amnestic presentation and 17 an atypical presentation during life, 23 pathologically-confirmed FTLD subjects, and 25 healthy controls. Patients with AD pathology, irrespective of clinical diagnosis, showed reduced cortical thickness bilaterally in the medial temporal lobe, posterior cingulate gyrus, precuneus, posterior parietal lobe, and frontal pole compared with controls. We further showed that lower cortical thickness in the posterior cingulate gyrus, parietal lobe, and frontal pole is suggestive of AD pathology in patients with behavioral or language deficits. In contrast, lower cortical thickness in the anterior temporal lobe and frontal lobe is indicative of the presence of FTLD pathology in patients with a clinical presentation of FTD. Reduced cortical thickness in the posterior cingulate gyrus is characteristic of AD pathology in patients with typical and atypical clinical presentations of AD, and may assist a clinical distinction of AD pathology from FTLD pathology.

Original publication




Journal article


J Alzheimers Dis

Publication Date





587 - 598


Aged, Alzheimer Disease, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Databases, Factual, Female, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, Functional Laterality, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Mental Status Schedule, Middle Aged