Background: The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a heterogeneous cortical structure that supports higher cognitive functions, including working memory and verbal abilities. The PFC is vulnerable to neurodegeneration with healthy aging and Alzheimer disease (AD). Objective: We used volumetric magnetic resonance imaging to determine whether any region within the PFC is more vulnerable to deterioration with late aging or AD. Methods: Volumetric analysis of PFC regions was performed on younger healthy elderly subjects (n = 26; 14 men and 12 women [mean age, 71.7 years] for aging analysis; 12 men and 14 women [mean age, 71.4 years] for AD analysis), oldest healthy elderly (OHE) subjects (n = 22 [11 men and 11 women]; mean age, 88.9 years), and patients with AD (n = 22 [12 men and 10 women]; mean age, 69.8 years). Results: The OHE subjects had less PFC white matter than did young healthy elderly subjects. The orbital region was selectively preserved relative to other PFC regions in the OHE subjects. Subjects with AD had less total PFC gray matter than did age-matched healthy subjects and significantly less volume in the inferior PFC region only. Conclusions: Orbital PFC is selectively preserved in OHE subjects. In contrast, degeneration within the PFC with AD is most prominent in the inferior PFC region. Thus, degeneration within the PFC has a regionally distinct pattern in healthy aging and AD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Neurology