A survey on applications and analysis methods of functional magnetic resonance imaging for Alzheimer's disease

Parisa Forouzannezhad, Alireza Abbaspour, Chen Fang, Mercedes Cabrerizo, David Loewenstein, Ranjan Duara, Malek Adjouadi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is an MRI-based neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity on the basis of blood oxygenation level. This study reviews the main fMRI methods reported in the literature and their related applications in clinical and preclinical studies, focusing on relating functional brain networks in the prodromal stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD), with a focus on the transition phases from cognitively normal (CN) to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and from MCI to AD. New method: The purpose of this study is to present and compare different approaches of supervised and unsupervised fMRI analyses and to highlight the different applications of fMRI in the diagnosis of MCI and AD. Results: Survey article asserts that brain network disruptions of a given dysfunction or in relation to disease prone areas of the brain in neurodegenerative dementias could be extremely useful in ascertaining the extent of cognitive deficits at the different stages of the disease. Identifying the earliest changes in these activity patterns is essential for the early planning of treatment and therapeutic protocols. Comparison with existing methods: Analysis methods such as independent component analysis (ICA) and graph theory-based approaches are strong analytical techniques most suitable for functional connectivity investigations. However, graph theory-based approaches have received more attention due to the higher performance they achieve in both functional and effective connectivity studies. Conclusion: This article shows that the disruption of brain connectivity patterns of MCI and AD could be associated with cognitive decline, an interesting finding that could augment the prospects for early diagnosis. More importantly, results reveal that changes in functional connectivity as obtained through fMRI precede detection of cortical thinning in structural MRI and amyloid deposition in positron emission tomography (PET). However, a major challenge in using fMRI as a single imaging modality, like all other imaging modalities used in isolation, is in relating a particular disruption in functional connectivity in relation to a specific disease. This is a challenge that requires more thorough investigation, and one that could perhaps be overcome through multimodal neuroimaging by consolidating the strengths of these individual imaging modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Functional connectivity
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Multimodal neuroimaging
  • Resting-state fMRI
  • Task-based fMRI
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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