The functional imaging of dementia

Stefano F. Cappa, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional imaging methods, such as single photon emission tomography (SPET) and positron emission tomography (PET), are playing an increasing role in the study of dementia. As diagnostic tools, these methods can be a useful adjunct to the clinical investigation for the differentiation of early Alzheimer's disease (AD) from normal ageing; in combination with other clinical and radiological evidence, they can also be helpful for the differential diagnosis of AD from other causes of degenerative dementia. There is evidence that in conditions characterized by a normal coupling of cerebral perfusion and metabolism, such as AD, the widely available and less expensive SPET can provide adequate diagnostic information. Functional imaging methods are also increasingly used in dementia as part of the research armamentarium of cognitive neuroscience: PET and SPET studies in patients with selective progressive neuropsychological disorders, such as semantic dementia, non-fluent progressive aphasia or prosopoagnosia, are providing important information about the cerebral correlates of cognitive function. The investigation of these disorders broadens the scope of clinico-radiological correlation analyses, which in the case of cerebrovascular lesions were constrained by the topography of vascular territories: for example, the study of patients with progressive aphasia has increased our appreciation of the role of the temporal lobe in semantic processing. Other new areas of application, such as activation studies in demented patients, have only recently started to be explored as clinical and research tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-153
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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