Neuroimaging comprises a powerful set of instruments to diagnose various neurodegenerative disorders, clarifies their neurobiology, and monitors their treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging depicts volume changes, as well as abnormalities in functional and structural connectivity. Positron emission tomography (PET) allows for the quantification of regional cerebral metabolism, characteristically altered in Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, diffuse Lewy-body disease, and the frontotemporal dementias. PET is also used to measure several neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which is abnormal in Parkinson's disease, and to determine the abnormal brain deposition of amyloid-β and tau, as well as brain inflammation. These instruments allow for the quantification in vivo and the longitudinal follow-up of key neurobiological events in neurodegeneration. For instance, amyloid imaging is being used not only to determine who has excess amyloid in the brain but also to investigate whether removing it may slow the deposition of tau and delay cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease.
- Journal Article