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A significant minority of Alzheimer's disease patients present with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). PCA is characterized by visuospatial and visuoperceptual deficits, and relatively preserved memory, whereas patients with typical Alzheimer's disease (tAD) mostly present with early episodic memory deficits. We used two unbiased image analysis techniques to assess atrophy patterns in 48 PCA, 30 tAD, and 50 healthy controls. FreeSurfer was used to measure cortical thickness, and volumetric grey matter differences were assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Both PCA and tAD showed widespread reductions compared with controls using both techniques. Direct comparison of PCA and tAD revealed thinner cortex predominantly in the right superior parietal lobe in the PCA group compared with tAD, whereas the tAD group showed thinning in the left entorhinal cortex compared with PCA. Similar results were obtained in the VBM analysis. These distinct patterns of atrophy may have diagnostic utility. In a clinical context, a relatively spared medial temporal lobe in the presence of posterior parietal atrophy may imply PCA, and should not discount AD.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Aging

Publication Date





1466 - 1476


Aged, Alzheimer Disease, Atrophy, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Memory, Middle Aged, Occipital Lobe, Parietal Lobe, Visual Perception