Diminished Posterior Precuneus Connectivity with the Default Mode Network Differentiates Normal Aging from Alzheimer's Disease.

Klaassens BL, van Gerven JMA, van der Grond J, de Vos F, Möller C, Rombouts SARB

Both normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been associated with a reduction in functional brain connectivity. It is unknown how connectivity patterns due to aging and AD compare. Here, we investigate functional brain connectivity in 12 young adults (mean age 22.8 ± 2.8), 12 older adults (mean age 73.1 ± 5.2) and 12 AD patients (mean age 74.0 ± 5.2; mean MMSE 22.3 ± 2.5). Participants were scanned during 6 different sessions with resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI), resulting in 72 scans per group. Voxelwise connectivity with 10 functional networks was compared between groups (p < 0.05, corrected). Normal aging was characterized by widespread decreases in connectivity with multiple brain networks, whereas AD only affected connectivity between the default mode network (DMN) and precuneus. The preponderance of effects was associated with regional gray matter volume. Our findings indicate that aging has a major effect on functional brain interactions throughout the entire brain, whereas AD is distinguished by additional diminished posterior DMN-precuneus coherence.