J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 69:167-171 doi:10.1136/jnnp.69.2.167
  • Paper

Cerebral correlates of psychotic symptoms in Alzheimer's disease

  1. Michael S Megaa,b,c,
  2. Linda Leea,b,
  3. Ivo D Dinova,b,
  4. Fred Mishkind,
  5. Arthur W Togaa,b,
  6. Jeffrey L Cummingsa,c
  1. aDepartment of Neurology UCLA School of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA, bLaboratory of Neuroimaging, cAlzheimer's Disease ResearchCenter, dDivision of Nuclear Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Cmt Torrance, California, USA
  1. Dr Michael S Mega, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, 710 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1769, USA mega{at}
  • Received 1 July 1999
  • Revised 16 November 1999
  • Accepted 14 December 1999


BACKGROUND Psychotic symptoms are produced by distributed neuronal dysfunction. Abnormalities of reality testing and false inference implicate frontal lobe abnormalities.

OBJECTIVES To identify the functional imaging profile of patients with Alzheimer's disease manifesting psychotic symptoms as measured by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).

METHODS Twenty patients with Alzheimer's disease who had SPECT and clinical evaluations were divided into two equal groups with similar mini mental status examination (MMSE), age, sex, and the range of behaviours documented by the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI), except delusions and hallucinations. SPECT studies, registered to a probabilistic anatomical atlas, were normalised across the combined group mean intensity level, and subjected to a voxel by voxel subtraction of the non-psychotic minus psychotic groups. Subvolume thresholding (SVT) corrected random lobar noise to produce a three dimensional functional significance map.

RESULTS The significance map showed lower regional perfusion in the right and left dorsolateral frontal, left anterior cingulate, and left ventral striatal regions along with the left pulvinar and dorsolateral parietal cortex, in the psychotic versus non-psychotic group.

CONCLUSION Patients with Alzheimer's disease who manifest psychosis may have disproportionate dysfunction of frontal lobes and related subcortical and parietal structures.


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