Fractal dimension studies of the brain shape in aging and neurodegenerative diseases

Jennilee M. Davidson, Luduan Zhang, Guang H. Yue, Antonio Di Ieva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The fractal dimension is a morphometric measure that has been used to investigate the changes of brain shape complexity in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. This chapter reviews fractal dimension studies in aging and neurodegenerative disorders in the literature. Research has shown that the fractal dimension of the left cerebral hemisphere increases until adolescence and then decreases with aging, while the fractal dimension of the right hemisphere continues to increase until adulthood. Studies in neurodegenerative diseases demonstrated a decline in the fractal dimension of the gray matter and white matter in Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and spinocerebellar ataxia. In multiple sclerosis, the white matter fractal dimension decreases, but conversely, the fractal dimension of the gray matter increases at specific stages of disease. There is also a decline in the gray matter fractal dimension in frontotemporal dementia and multiple system atrophy of the cerebellar type and in the white matter fractal dimension in epilepsy and stroke. Region-specific changes in fractal dimension have also been found in Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Associations were found between the fractal dimension and clinical scores, showing the potential of the fractal dimension as a marker to monitor brain shape changes in normal or pathological processes and predict cognitive or motor function.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe fractal geometry of the brain
EditorsAntonio Di Ieva
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9783031476068
ISBN (Print)9783031476051
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2024

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neurobiology
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
ISSN (Print)2190-5215
ISSN (Electronic)2190-5223


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fractal dimension (FD)
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Shape complexity
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Stroke


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