Neuroanatomical and neuropsychological markers of amnestic MCI: A three-year longitudinal study in individuals unaware of cognitive decline

Katharina S. Goerlich*, Mikhail Votinov, Ellen Dicks, Sinika Ellendt, Gábor Csukly, Ute Habel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Structural brain changes underlying mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have been well-researched, but most previous studies required subjective cognitive complaints (SCC) as a diagnostic criterion, diagnosed MCI based on a single screening test or lacked analyses in relation to neuropsychological impairment. This longitudinal voxel-based morphometry study aimed to overcome these limitations: The relationship between regional gray matter (GM) atrophy and behavioral performance was investigated over the course of 3 years in individuals unaware of cognitive decline, identified as amnestic MCI based on an extensive neuropsychological test battery. Region of interest analyses revealed GM atrophy in the left amygdala, hippocampus, and parahippocampus in MCI individuals compared to normally aging participants, which was specifically related to verbal memory impairment and evident already at the first measurement point. These findings demonstrate that GM atrophy is detectable in individuals with amnestic MCI despite unawareness of beginning cognitive decline. Thus, individuals with GM atrophy in regions associated with verbal memory impairment do not necessarily need to experience SCC before meeting neuropsychological criteria for MCI. These results have important implications for future research and diagnostic procedures of MCI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2017

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