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Imaging Finds Problems With Visual Function in Alzheimer’s

Last Updated: January 05, 2010.

In patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, neuronal function along the dorsal visual pathway may be altered before function along the ventral visual pathway, according to research published in the January issue of Radiology.

TUESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, neuronal function along the dorsal visual pathway may be altered before function along the ventral visual pathway, according to research published in the January issue of Radiology.

Arun L.W. Bokde, Ph.D., of Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, and colleagues analyzed data from 12 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease and 14 age-matched healthy controls. Subjects performed two tasks -- deciding whether two simultaneously presented faces were identical and whether two images were located in the same position within their surrounding rectangle -- while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers found that the control group had differential activation of the ventral and dorsal pathways during the facial- and location-matching tasks, respectively. Patients with Alzheimer's, however, only had selective activation of the dorsal pathway while performing the location-matching task. Alzheimer's patients recruited more regions in the dorsal visual pathway, particularly in the frontal and parietal lobes, for the location task.

"Greater impairment along the dorsal visual pathway in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease indicates that there could be greater impairment in tasks that recruit these areas of the brain, such as motion perception, depth perception, object location perception, and navigation in environments such as a patient's home. These difficulties could lead to greater probability of falls, which are a risk factor for early death," the authors write.

A co-author reported financial relationships with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

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