Researchers Discuss Neuroimaging Techniques at International FTD Conference



Alzforum’s conference coverage series of the International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementias has continued. The third article in the series looked into the neuroimaging techniques that investigate patterns of atrophy, white-matter erosion, and a breakdown of neural circuitry in sporadic and familial forms of FTD. 

During the conference, researchers described how the brain changes differently across genetic forms of FTD. Adam Staffaroni, PhD, of the University of California, San Fransisco (UCSF) and colleagues tracked the rate of atrophy across the brain among 100 FTD mutation carriers and 60 relatives who were noncarriers, and captured different impacts from each mutation on the brainStaffaroni will be a featured speaker at the 2021 AFTD Education Conference, happening online May 13 and May 14, where he will discuss updates on current major FTD research initiatives. 

Dr. Howard Rosen of UCSF, member of AFTD’s Medical Advisory Council, discussed how unbiased imaging could be applied to track atrophy and predict symptom onset in an individual, regardless of where degeneration started inside of the brain.  

Suzee Lee, MD, also at UCSF, conducted neuroimaging studies focused on the MAPT mutation. She examined the integrity of white-matter tracts, reporting that erosion of the corpus callosum, found beneath the cerebral cortex, and the uncinate fasciculus, the tract that connects parts of the limbic system, were found in symptomatic carriers. This finding appeared among few presymptomatic carriers.  

Other neuroimaging techniques utilized by the researchers also included resting-state functional MRIs (rsfMRI) and multimodal MRIs. A rsfMRI measures neural activity and gauges how robustly networks in the bran are functionally connected. Multimodal MRIs can measure changes in gray-matter volume and white-matter tracts, which researchers examine to more accurately predict symptom onset.  

The International Society for Frontotemporal Dementias virtually convened the 12th International Conference on FTD March 3-5. Read the full Alzforum article here