Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is believed to represent a transitional stage between normal healthy ageing and the development of dementia. In particular, aMCI patients have been shown to have higher annual transition rates to Alzheimer's Disease (AD) than individuals without cognitive impairment. Despite intensifying interest investigating the neuroanatomical basis of this transition, there remain a number of questions regarding the pathophysiological process underlying aMCI itself. A number of recent studies in aMCI have shown specific impairments in connectivity within the default mode network (DMN), which is a group of regions strongly related to episodic memory capacities. However to date, no study has investigated the integrity of the DMN between patients with aMCI and those with a non-amnestic pattern of MCI (naMCI), who have cognitive impairment, but intact memory storage systems. In this study, we contrasted the DMN connectivity in 24 aMCI and 33 naMCI patients using seed-based resting state fMRI. The two groups showed no statistical difference in their DMN intra-connectivity. However when connectivity was analysed according to performance on measures of episodic memory retrieval, the two groups were separable, with aMCI patients demonstrating impaired functional connectivity between the hippocampal formation and the posterior cingulate cortex. We provide evidence that this lack of connectivity is driven by impaired communication from the posterior cingulate hub and does not simply represent hippocampal atrophy, suggesting that posterior cingulate degeneration is the driving force behind impaired DMN connectivity in aMCI.
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- Default mode network
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Resting state functional connectivity