OBJECTIVE: To investigate the patterns of MRI brain atrophy in patients with ALS with and without clinically evident frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD) using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). METHODS: Voxel-based morphometry was used to compare T1-weighted MRI images obtained from ten ALS patients with FTLD, ten ALS patients who were cognitively and behaviorally normal, and 22 control subjects. Images from patients and controls were spatially pre-processed using a study-specific, customized template and a priori images. A statistical threshold of p < 0.05 corrected for multiple comparisons determined significance. RESULTS: A common pattern of gray matter atrophy was seen in both ALS and ALS/FTLD patients when compared to controls that involved the bilateral motor/premotor cortices, the left middle and inferior frontal gyri, the anterior portion of the superior frontal gyri, the superior temporal gyri, the temporal poles and left posterior thalamus. Most of the frontal regions were significantly more atrophied in the ALS/FTLD group than in the ALS group. No significant differences were found in white matter volumes. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with ALS and ALS associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration exhibit widespread gray matter atrophy in frontotemporal regions. This finding supports the idea of a clinical and anatomic continuum between ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.
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